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Thursday, March 23, 2006
Microsoft To Offer Technical Support to Licensees

Microsoft said on Wednesday it is taking new voluntary actions to comply with European Commission sanctions,and announced that it would provide free, unlimited technical support to companies that license its protocols for work group servers.

"In addition to unlimited technical support, Microsoft is further augmenting the program by offering on-site assistance to licensees," the company said in a statement.

The European Commission said it had not been told about the offer so did not know any details, but that at first sight it seemed constructive.

"However, technical support is only helpful once the documentation has reached a certain quality standard ... the Commission's preliminary view is that the technical documentation still does not comply with the requirements of the decision," Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd said.

A Microsoft official said the company had also been working with a monitoring trustee appointed by the Commission and had developed a checklist to deal with problems in the documentation.

"We will leave no stone unturned to overcome the compliance impasse," said Hoaraci Gutierrez, a general counsel for Microsoft in Europe.

Microsoft seeks to avoid fines of up to 2 million euros ($2.43 million) daily.The Commission found two years ago that Microsoft used its dominant position with the Windows operating system to damage rival makers of server software used to run printers, password sign-ins and file access for small work groups.

The Commission said Microsoft never complied with sanctions designed to put competitive makers of work group servers on a level playing field and opened proceedings to fine the firm. For more information read CDRinfo's previous news.

A separate court hearing, which is open to the public, will be held on Microsoft's challenge to the underlying decision. That five-day hearing before the Court of First Instance in Luxembourg will begin on April 24.

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