EC denies Microsoft deadline extension, while the company cries foul

Brussels (Belgium) - European Commission spokesperson Jonathan Todd confirmed to Reuters today that the EC has denied Microsoft's request for an extension to its 15 February deadline for turning over interoperability documentation for Windows. Also denied yet again, Todd confirmed, was Microsoft's repeated request for access to correspondence between Commissioners, their appointed trustees, and third-party experts who, Microsoft has claimed, waived their right to confidentiality.

Earlier today, Reuters quoted a letter written by counsel Ian Forrester QC to the hearing officer for the EU's Court of First Instance, responding to the EC's refusal to grant Microsoft access to this correspondence by saying, "Microsoft remains convinced that the Commission's position on this point is contrary to both the letter and spirit of the law."

Todd responded to counsel's letter by telling Reuters, "In contrast to Microsoft's claims, the hearing officer considers that Microsoft's rights of defense have been properly safeguarded."

Last 25 January, Microsoft took the unprecedented step of promising to license direct access to the source code that the EC has been wanting the company to document, stating that the source code is its own best documentation. But that move met with a cold reception by EC commissioners who preferred that the source code be explained to them. Recent moves by Microsoft to gain access to correspondence may be part of a strategy to paint a picture of a sort of anti-Microsoft conspiracy on the part of opportunist politicians, for the benefit of a court that may give Microsoft a sympathetic ear. Earlier today, the EC found itself reversing its public position with regard to digital television standards that also involve the keyword "interoperability," perhaps to avoid the appearance of a double-standard on the matter of government support of industry-established monopolies - in this case, involving Europe's DVB standard.