MS ANTITRUST : Ballmer pays visit to E.U. antitrust chief

Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer met the European Union’s competition commissioner, Neelie Kroes, on Tuesday to discuss the company’s failure until now to fully comply with the E.U.’s antitrust ruling against the firm in May 2004, a spokesman for Kroes has confirmed.

The meeting took place on Tuesday evening and lasted for about one hour, according to Kroes’ spokesman, Jonathan Todd. He said that Kroes made it clear that the European Commission, which is the E.U.’s executive body, expected Microsoft to comply with its ruling “urgently and in full.”

He warned that unless the company complied to the Commission’s satisfaction it would be “obliged to take formal steps” to ensure compliance, explaining that the Commission was entitled to fine the firm five per cent of its global daily turnover for every day it failed to comply.

The Commission, which is responsible for enforcing E.U. competiton policy, in March last year ordered Microsoft to offer a version of the Windows PC operating system without its own Windows Media Player and to ensure interoperability with its workgoup server software by publishing its communications protocols under fair licensing terms. The firm was also asked to pay a fine of