LUXEMBOURG -- Microsoft Corp. complained yesterday that the European Commission forced it to hand over trade secrets to rivals, effectively giving them a ''free ride" on the work the software maker did to acquire new customers and develop new technologies.
But Anthony Whelan, the commission's lawyer, said that the ''super-dominant" software maker had managed to strangle its rivals' innovation and is unlikely to face ''an attack of the clones" if it gives companies the information to make their programs work more smoothly with the Windows operating system.
''Microsoft's alarmist claims about duplication have been made for your consideration only," he told the panel of 13 judges that is considering the company's challenge to the commission's 2004 antitrust order and record $613 million fine.
The weeklong hearing was in its third day yesterday, and the focus shifted from media player software to the EU regulators' order that Microsoft give interoperability information to makers of rival server operating systems.
Whelan said Novell Inc. and Sun Microsystems Inc. were reduced to catering to network servers with ''last century's technology" -- Windows NT -- because Microsoft withheld the code needed to allow them to work smoothly with PCs running the world's most-used desktop software.
Microsoft's refusal to supply server protocols from 1998 onward meant most servers had to use more time-consuming and costly techniques to supply software people wanted, keeping them a generation behind Microsoft's software, he said.
The company broke with standard practice in the technology industry by refusing to supply interoperability information, he said.