The European Commission is still undecided about whether to clear Microsoft's proposed browser software licensing agreements with Internet service providers (ISPs), or seek further changes to encourage competition, commission sources said.
The comments followed criticism from the Software Publishers Association on the exclusivity and preferential treatment in the proposed Microsoft contracts to ISPs.
"Microsoft made changes to the agreements and we are looking at the changes and also looked at the comments and are still making up our minds on what to do. If there is sufficient... we will put out a notice favouring the agreements and asking for comments," a commission source said.
However Microsoft Europe's corporate affairs executive, John Frank said the changes were made before the commission published a summary of the contracts in June. The company believes it has already made concessions to deal with clauses, which he said earlier caused controversy.
"We have pared back a lot of the provisions which were not being enforced anyway. There is no real exclusivity in the contracts," Frank said, noting how previous contracts involving cross-promotion with ISPs were replaced by the latest versions.
Frank said the complaints from the worldwide Software Publishing Association were made without having seen the contracts themselves, only the Commission's summary, and went against a vote in the association's government affairs committee not to comment.
"Somebody in the Commission said they did not find the comments persuasive. I read that in a newspaper," he said.
The SPA said in its comments in July that Microsoft's access for ISPs to a database on ISPs involved a commission fee and another fee for new software subscribers; it also said the conditions on ISPs involved non-promotion of rival browser products.
"Anti-competitive effects may result in circumstances such as those presented by the Commission's notice, in which the applicant seeking authorisation to use such provisions not only occupies a dominant position, but engaged in a pattern of anti-competitive behaviour," it said.
Frank said the next step in the investigation is up to the Commission and that Microsoft has made changes and notified the licences in order to constructively resolve the issue. He noted how this was before the Department of Justice action in the US.
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