Microsoft has released details of its offer to the European Commission to end the ongoing anti-trust arguments between the two.
It proposed dividing up the protocols used by its workgroup server products into different packages that can be licensed separately, and devised a number of different royalty schemes, making some of the information royalty-free.
Microsoft refused to license the protocols for use in open-source products and suggested instead that the protocol code be put into a separate inter-operability layer distributed under a different licence, forming a bridge between open-source applications and Microsoft's closed-source code. "If the information goes to the public domain, then there's no need for anyone to come to Microsoft for a licence," the company argued.
The company and the Commission have agreed to let the European Court of First Instance settle that point as part of Microsoft's appeal against the Commission's anti-trust ruling.
If the Commission does not consider Microsoft's concessions sufficient, the company faces a fine of up to $5 million a day.
The Commission is discussing the suggestions with other players in the software industry. Allowing a couple of weeks for that process, and time for the Commission to evaluate the results, it will be at least a month before the Commission decides whether it accepts the proposals, according to a Commission spokesman.
It is however believed to be satisfied with the Microsoft's Windows XP N - a version of Windows that comes with the Media Player tied in.
The Commission found Microsoft guilty of abusing its monopoly in the operating system market in March 2004. It fined the software giant 497 million euros, ordered it to change its anti-competitive behaviour, release a version of Windows without its Media Player and reveal details of the protocols used by its workgroup server products.
Early moves by Microsoft were strongly criticised by the industry and Commission as insufficient and the company was ordered to come up with new approaches or face very large per-day fines.