Microsoft’s decision to delay Office 2007 last month appeared to foreshadow a similar fate for Vista, especially as CEO Steve Ballmer said in May the OS was on track to ship “early in the year”—omitting to reference the official January 2007 launch date. Bill Gates has now elaborated on the Vista launch situation with a statement that is none clearer: according to Gates, there is an “80 percent chance” that Vista will ship in January. Gates didn’t clarify whether this probability was liable to change over time, although he added that he would be “glad” to delay the launch if beta testing reveals the OS is “not ready for prime time.”

The European Commission has finally come to a decision regarding Microsoft’s perceived non-compliance with a 2004 antitrust ruling, and it has opted to fine the company a whopping €280.5 million—equivalent to just over $ 357 million. The fine is the result of accumulated €1.5 million ($ 1.91 million) daily fines during a 187-day period after a December 16 deadline last year. Microsoft was supposed to provide the last items of required documentation to competitors before the deadline, but the company has now agreed to complete this process by July 18. If Microsoft somehow fails to comply by July 31, the Commission will double daily fines to €3 million ($ 3.81 million) each day.

About the new fine, Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said, “Microsoft has still not put an end to its illegal conduct. I have no alternative but to levy penalty payments for this continued noncompliance.” Microsoft, meanwhile, responded saying, “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.” As with every one of the Commission’s rulings so far, Microsoft plans to appeal the fine, CNet says.