After nine years of back and forth and a small country's GDP in fines for antitrust violations, Microsoft's finally caving to EU antitrust regulators by giving code to competitors it's fought to keep to itself after a 2004 European Commission directive to hand it over. A ruling last month by the EU's second-highest court affirmed the EU's right to force powerhouse companies to share intellectual property with competitors in order to level the playing field, which purportedly led Ballmer to fly to Europe to cut the deal.
According to the deal's terms, developers can pay a one-time fee of 10,000 euros ($14,300) to get ahold of Microsoft's server protocols. If they're used in a rival's product, Microsoft's entitled to 0.4 percent of sales—Microsoft wanted 5.95 percent, so they've taken quite a pay cut, indicating that Microsoft's hands were pretty tied up on the matter. After their success in browbeating Microsoft here, it's anyone's guess as to where the EU's antitrust police will point their legal guns next. What do you guys think of the ruling? Should Microsoft have to relinquish code to the competition? [NYT, Flickr]