Microsoft to offer concessions to EC in antitrust case

In a bid to settle its European antitrust case, Microsoft Corp. said Tuesday it will submit an offer to the European Commission to grant rivals access to two of the technical standards needed to make full use of its Windows operating systems.

John Frank, senior European counsel for Microsoft in Europe, said that by releasing Microsoft’s technical information on an encryption system called Kerberos and an Internet standard known as Common Internet File System, the software company hoped it would address the concerns of the European Commission’s competition officials.

“We will be explaining how these steps we are taking are responsive to the concerns raised in the Commission’s statement of objections,” Frank said.

The Commission, the executive body of the European Union, has accused Microsoft of abusing its dominance in operating system software to dominate other markets, such as the market for server software.

It also alleges that Microsoft has used its operating system muscle to dominate the market for audio and video playing software with its Media Player product. Frank said he hopes that what his company offered to the Department of Justice in the U.S. will meet this concern of the European Commission.

In the U.S., Microsoft offered to disclose technical information that would allow PC manufacturers to set competitors’ software as the default media player.

“I don’t know if it is enough for the Commission, but it is direct on the point,” Frank said.

Intense negotiations between the Commission and Microsoft are expected in the coming weeks. Commission spokeswoman Amelia Torres said the Commission is waiting to receive the proposals from the company.

Microsoft will be submitting separate responses to the Commission over the coming weeks, Frank said.

He declined to estimate when the antitrust case will be over.

“Timing is entirely up to the Commission,” he said. “I imagine they will be watching events in the U.S. I hope it is over by the end of the year, but I can imagine circumstances where it is not.”