Hoping to ease antitrust concerns by European regulators,
has decided to license all of its Windows Server source code.
"Today we are putting our most valuable intellectual property on the table so we can put technical compliance issues to rest and move forward with a serious discussion about the substance of this case," said Brad Smith, Microsoft senior vice president and general counsel, in a statement released prior to Wednesday's opening bell.
Source code is underlying programming that users never see. Software written to work with Windows must be compatible with it.
In March 2004, the European Union fined Microsoft a record $610.4 million and ordered it to share code with rivals and offer a version of Windows that does not contain the Windows Media Player. The order resulted from a suit alleging that Microsoft's practice of bundling the media player was anticompetitive and constituted an unfair advantage over rivals such as
Microsoft is appealing the ruling but says it has complied with it in the meantime. Last month, though, the commission said Microsoft had not fulfilled its commitment and threatened to levy huge fines against the software giant.
"We have now come to the conclusion that the only way to be certain of satisfying the Commission's demands is to go beyond the 2004 decision and offer a license to the source code of the Windows server operating system," said Smith.
In recent trading, Microsoft shares were up 18 cents, or 0.7%, to $26.46.