After 3 years of legal debate and appeal, and being backed by the US government, Microsoft finally folded to the EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes. Fair use excerpt from CNN:

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) — Microsoft Corp. agreed to obey key parts of a 2004 antitrust ruling upheld by an appeals court last month, EU regulators said Monday, cutting royalties for rivals and handing information over to open source developers.

The world’s largest software company said separately that it would not appeal the decision, dropping a challenge to a European Commission order that found it guilty of monopoly abuse three years ago.

EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes reached the deal in a phone call with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in the early hours of the morning, she said, adding that she hoped this “dark chapter” was over.

“As of today, the major issues concerning compliance have been resolved,” Kroes said, but cautioned that Microsoft has ongoing obligations.

Kroes said she regretted that it took so long for Microsoft to comply, because consumers suffered a lack of choice for years as rivals were held back from developing better software.

“It is a victory day for the consumer … not the Commission,” she said.

If the software maker does not keep to the terms of the deal, competitors will be able to take the company to a British court to seek damages.

Microsoft has agreed to three substantial changes, according to the European Commission.

About time. Neelie is a bitch, a Dutch bitch BTW, but that was needed.

Added Feb 27th, 2008:  And another fine, 899 mln Euro is imposed for not sticking to the deal, totalling now 1.68 billion Euro ($2.4 bln). Not learning it seems.