A European Union court has upheld a roughly $1 billion fine against Microsoft that dates back to 2008. The fine will be lowered slightly, however, from 899 million Euros ($1.1 billion) to 860 million Euros ($1.07 billion).
The fine, the second-largest ever imposed by the EU, was levied in 2008 as a result of the EU's 2004 case against Microsoft's regarding access to certain APIs in its work group server operating systems that were not made available to open-source competitors from October 1988 to March 2004. The EU ruled Microsoft's actions were anti-competitive and fined Microsoft 497 million Euros in 2004. In 2006, Microsoft was fined an additional 280.5 million Euros for not complying with the ruling, and was again fined in 2008.
A statement by the European Union was issued revealing it had lowered the fine because of a letter the Commission sent to Microsoft in 2005. The letter told Microsoft it could continue to restrict distribution of certain products developed by the company's open-source competitors "on the basis of non-patented and non-inventive interoperability information" until the court issued a judgment in a then-open case. That case was later resolved in September 2007.
Because of the letter, the court lowered the fine by a small amount as the court said the letter was only relevant to "a marginal part of the effects produced by the conduct found to be unlawful." The fine in question was levied as a result of the 488 days Microsoft declined to hand over information regarding the APIs in question to open-source competitors after the original rulings.