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Brussels, 5th October 2005

Competition: Commission appoints Trustee to advise on Microsoft’s compliance with 2004 Decision

The European Commission has appointed Professor Neil Barrett, a computer scientist, as the Trustee who will provide technical advice to the Commission on issues relating to Microsoft’s compliance with the Commission’s 2004 Decision (see IP/04/382). Professor Barrett will begin his mandate immediately.

The Commission decided in March 2004 that Microsoft Corporation broke the EC Treaty’s ban on abuse of monopoly power (Article 82) by leveraging its near monopoly in the market for PC operating systems onto the markets for work group server operating systems and for media players. The Commission’s Decision imposed a fine of €497 million on Microsoft and required the company to implement remedies as regards both work group server operating systems and media players.

The Decision foresees a Monitoring Trustee to assist the Commission in monitoring Microsoft’s compliance with the Decision. The Decision requires that the Monitoring Trustee must be independent of Microsoft, must possess the necessary qualifications to carry out his mandate, and have the possibility to hire expert advisors to assist him in carrying out tasks within his mandate.

The exclusive responsibility for ensuring that Microsoft complies in full with the 2004 Decision rests with the Commission. The Monitoring Trustee’s role is to provide impartial expert advice to the Commission on compliance issues. For example, as regards the interoperability remedy, where Microsoft is required to disclose complete and accurate interface documentation which would allow non-Microsoft work group servers to achieve full interoperability with Windows PCs and servers, his expertise might be used in assessing whether Microsoft’s protocol disclosures are complete and accurate, and whether the terms under which Microsoft makes the protocol specifications available are reasonable and non-discriminatory. On tying, the Trustee might be asked to examine whether Microsoft has properly implemented the requirement to offer to PC manufacturers a version of its Windows client PC operating system without Windows Media Player.

In accordance with the terms of the Decision, Microsoft submitted several candidates for the position of Monitoring Trustee. The Commission carefully examined all candidates in terms of their expertise and impartiality, and determined that Professor Barrett was the most qualified to carry out the Monitoring Trustee function.

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