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Software giant may face a big EU fine

BRUSSELS -- The European Commission is set to fine Microsoft between $255 million and $383 million today as punishment for failing to carry out antitrust sanctions, sources familiar with the situation said yesterday.

The two sources said that, by the end of this month, the software giant must meet European Commission standards for complying with the sanctions -- imposed more than two years ago -- or face a ratcheting up of future fines.

The current fine was calculated by setting a daily fine and multiplying by the number of days between Dec. 16, 2005 and a date in June, the sources said.

The commission could have fined Microsoft up to $2.55 million daily. It declined to comment on the fine.

Microsoft will face fines of up to $3.8 million daily if it fails to comply with the commission's orders by July 31, the sources said.

Microsoft has pledged to deliver documents by July 18 to be in compliance.

An advisory group from the 25-member European Union endorsed the size of the fine at a meeting Monday, other sources said.

That paved the way for the first such punishment ever imposed by the commission on a company for non-compliance with an antitrust decision.

No other company has defied commission sanctions in the same way, EU officials say.

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