Earlier in the day, the European Commission fined Microsoft € 280.5 million ($357.3 million) for not providing adequate technical documentation to rival server software makers, a stipulation of its antitrust decision against Microsoft in March 2004. The watchdog also warned that failure to provide acceptable documentation would result in bigger fines in the future. Microsoft, the world's largest software maker, said it is encouraged by the feedback from European regulators about the latest batch of technical documents and hopes the issue can be resolved by the end of July. Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel said that everybody appeared to agree that the company was on the right track to getting the technical document done and that if they could continue that way, Microsoft would be able to bring this chapter to a close end and normalize its relationship with the European Commission. Based on its optimism about its ability to meet the Commission's requirements, Smith said Microsoft does not see any need to change how it conducts business in Europe or bring in engineers to alter products it offers in the region. Smith said the company has 300 engineers working around the clock to complete the documentation project by July 18 and then field questions and concerns from European regulators before the end of the month Smith, who is also a Microsoft senior vice president, said the company plans to appeal the ruling, but will announce the financial impact related to the fine on July 20 when the company announces quarterly results. "There's nothing you would have found in our prior quarterly releases that would have reflected this amount, because it would have been premature. So we will have to take account of this," said Smith. Still, most investment analysts said the fine will have little financial impact on Microsoft, which has a cash reserve of $35 billion and regularly generates more than $1 billion in free cash flow a month. Shares of Microsoft fell 46 cents to $22.64 on Wednesday. (Reuters, BBC)
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