EU set to fine Microsoft: sources

(Reuters) - Microsoft Corp. is expected to be hit with a fine of between 200 million and 300 million euros on Wednesday for failing to carry out antitrust sanctions imposed by the European Commission, sources familiar with the situation said.

The full 25-member Commission was meeting later on Wednesday, where it was to consider Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes' recommendation to impose the fine, reports Trend.

Such recommendations are routinely approved and Kroes has set a news conference for 11.30 a.m. (0930 GMT).

The Commission found Microsoft abused the power of its Windows operating systems to damage competitive makers of server software and it was required to be ready to change its ways by June 2004. But the Commission says it still has not done so.

Microsoft said it has done everything the Commission asked, but that the Commission was not clear about its requirements until recently.

By the end of the month the software giant must meet European Commission standards for complying with the sanctions or face a ratcheting up of future fines, the two sources said.

The total penalty was calculated by setting a daily fine and multiplying by the number of days between December 16, 2005, and a date in June, the sources said.

The Commission could have fined Microsoft up to 2 million euros ($2.55 million) daily. It declined to comment on the fine.

Microsoft will face fines of up to 3 million euros daily if it fails to comply with the Commission's orders by July 31, the sources said.

Microsoft has pledged to deliver documents by July 18 to be in compliance.

The new fine is on top of a record 497 million euro fine the Commission imposed in 2004 for the actual offence, along with the sanctions.

After years of investigation, the Commission found that Microsoft used near-monopoly power from its Windows operating system to harm competitors making "work group servers," which run printing and sign-on services in offices.

The Commission ordered Microsoft to give rivals the information needed so their work group servers could compete on a level playing field with Microsoft's own. Microsoft must help its rivals interconnect smoothly with Windows.

Microsoft was supposed to ready the information for competitors by June 2004. The company tried to have the sanctions suspended until it could complete a court challenge to the 2004 decision, but late that year a judge said no.

Analysts said the new fine would have little effect on Microsoft's share price on Wednesday.

"The market has pretty much priced in whatever fines that the EU could level," said Toan Tran, a Chicago-based equity analyst at Morningstar.

"It's been pretty well-flagged and very public information. Everyone in the marketplace is pretty aware of it."

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