Microsoft Corp., the world’s largest software maker, must make it easier for developers of free programs to work with Windows by June 1 or face new European antitrust charges, people familiar with the matter said.
The European Commission is threatening Microsoft with fines because the company’s response to a March 2004 order doesn’t go far enough, said the people, who declined to be identified. Microsoft, whose Windows operating system runs more than 90 percent of the world’s personal computers, contends the commission’s demands go beyond the original decision, they said.
“Microsoft is concerned about losing control of its intellectual property, and the fact is some of the licensing terms used by open-source software developers raise a legitimate concern,” Neil Macehiter, a partner at Macehiter Ward-Dutton, which advises companies on information technology strategies, said today. “A compromise is going to be difficult.”
European Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes’s demand could boost the appeal of software such as the Linux operating system, which has grown faster than Windows in the past four years. Microsoft on April 28 said revenue rose at the slowest pace in five years in the three months ended March 31 as customers await the release of a new version of Windows, due next year.
“We are working hard with the commission to fully comply with the decision,” said Tom Brookes, a spokesman for Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft.