The European Commission is to cease to monitor Microsoft's compliance to the EC's anti-trust ruling, five years after it was first imposed. The EU-appointed watchdog has been told that he is no longer needed.

In addition to fining the company €497 million for monopoly abuse, Europe's top anti-trust authority imposed remedies including the order to share interoperability information so that rivals could build software that works smoothly with the near ubiquitous Windows OS.

Microsoft's failure to honour this order forced the Commission to appoint a monitoring trustee, Neil Barrett, a British computer scientist at Cranfield University in England in 2005, to ensure that it did; it is Barrett who has been told that his job has now ended.

Barrett reported to competition commissioner Neelie Kroes and often criticised Microsoft's for failing to cooperate. The Commission fined Microsoft an additional €899 million for not honouring the ruling - a fine that Microsoft appealed at the European Court of First Instance.

The Commission stressed that Microsoft has "an ongoing obligation to supply complete and accurate interoperability information."

But it added that since the original set of interoperability information has already been made public, and as rivals now can force continued access to the information through direct legal action in national courts, "the nature of the technical assistance that the Commission requires is now of a more ad hoc character."