By New Scientist Tech staff and AFP Microsoft has vowed to appeal against a fine of 280.5 million ($357.5 million) issued by the European Union on Wednesday. The EU competition watchdog accuses the software colossus of failing to comply with its 2004 antitrust ruling. Raising the pressure on Microsoft, the EU also threatened fines of 3 million ($3.8 million) per day, from the end of July, if the company continues to defy the ruling. In 2004, after a five-year investigation, the EU ruled that Microsoft had broken European law by using its “quasi-monopoly” in personal computer operating systems to thwart rivals. In addition to fining the company 497 million, the EU ordered Microsoft to sell a version of Windows without Media Player software installed and to divulge code to the makers of rival products. Microsoft paid that fine but has been unwilling to reveal some computer code to its competitors. Microsoft argues that it has already released enough code and that the commission’s original ruling was too vague. On Wednesday, the EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said she had “no alternative” other than to impose new fines. “I sincerely regret that the company has not put an end to its illegal conduct,” Kroes told a news conference on Wednesday. “The European Commission cannot allow such illegal conduct to continue indefinitely.” “No company is above the law, each and every company, large or small, operating in the European Union must obey EU law, including competition law, for the benefit of all companies and consumers,” Kroes added. But, Microsoft swiftly shot back with plans to appeal in court. “We do not believe any fine, let alone a fine of this magnitude, is appropriate given the lack of clarity in the Commission’s original decision and our good-faith efforts over the past two years,” said the company’s general counsel Brad Smith. “We will ask the European courts to determine whether our compliance efforts have been sufficient and whether the commission’s unprecedented fine is justified,” Smith added. Microsoft challenged the 2004 ruling in the EU’s second-highest court in April 2006, but a decision on the appeal is not expected before the end of the year. A group of Microsoft’s rivals, including Adobe, IBM, Oracle and Nokia, welcomed the new fines. “No competition authority can or should tolerate such a direct challenge to its authority,” said the group’s legal counsel Thomas Vinje. “Microsoft continues to profit in the market from every new day of non-compliance,” he added. Kroes acknowledged that Microsoft had made progress in recent weeks to release key information to rivals but this process needed to be monitored and reviewed by an independent trustee. “We have to wait for the final result, but over the last three weeks, they did an extremely good job,” Kroes said. “My only remark is why wait that long, and why not do that earlier?