The EC has appointed a British academic to oversee Microsoft's compliance with the anti-trust ruling against the company.
European Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes informed Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer of the decision in a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday morning.
Professor Neil Barrett is an expert in computer security and the Unix operating system. He has worked for Bull and is a technical director for IRM, advising on security policy. Barrett is also a visiting professor of computer crime at Cranfield and Glamorgan universities in the UK.
The Commission said that it had appointed Barrett as monitoring trustee to "provide technical advice to the Commission" on issues relating to Microsoft's compliance with the ruling. It said that the trustee must be independent of Microsoft, must possess the necessary qualifications to carry out the mandate and have the possibility to hire expert advisors to assist in carrying out tasks within the mandate, reports Techworld.
However, commission officials on Wednesday made clear the regulator would continue to press the software group for full compliance with the March 2004 ruling, which Brussels believes is still not the case.
Barrett will advise Mr Kroes on potential conflicts arising from the Commission ruling, which ordered Microsoft to pay a record €497m ($595m) fine for breaking EU competition rules. The group was also told to share sensitive information about its Windows operating system with rivals, in order to allow them to design products that work more smoothly with Windows-driven computers.
It is this part of the ruling that is widely expected to spark conflicts between Microsoft and rivals, for example over the level of licensing fees companies have to pay to receive the information on Windows. Prof Barrett, who has held teaching posts at York and Cranfield Universities, is expected to play an important role in settling such disputes, informs Financial Times.