Adverse appeal ruling could push back Vista

Microsoft’s new Vista operating system could be delayed if its battle against a European Commission anti-trust ruling goes badly, an industry analyst has warned.

Microsoft’s new Vista operating system could be delayed if its battle against a European Commission anti-trust...

ruling goes badly, an industry analyst has warned.

The software giant begins its appeal today against the commission’s 2004 ruling and the demand that it release documentation for its workgroup server protocols in an acceptable format. The company faces a daily fine of £1.4m for failing to comply.

But investment analyst Kim Caughey of  Fort Pitt Capital Group warned that if Microsoft’s appeal before the European Court of First Instance is unsuccessful, there could be a knock-on effect on the release of the company’s new Vista operating system.

European competition commissioner Neelie Kroes is understood to have already raised concerns about Vista to Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer. The commission is concerned that the new operating system may integrate internet search functions, digital rights management tools or software to create fixed document formats, similar to Adobe’s pdf.

“There could be additional antitrust [legal] filings as Microsoft expands the capabilities of its operating system. In a worst case, it might give Microsoft pause to release [Vista] if its EU battle is going badly,” Caughey said.

Additional antitrust actions against Microsoft would be triggered by the software giant’s attempts to “roll new tools into its operating system”, she said. “They are going to move into established vendors. I’d hate to be a company in Microsoft’s intended direction [of travel].”

The Court of First Instance is set to hear evidence from the European Committee for Interoperable Systems – which includes IT firms IBM, Oracle, Sun Microsystems and Red Hat – in support of the European Commission’s ruling.

The Software and Information Industries Association, multimedia software provider, and the Free Software Foundation Europe are also expected to intervene in support of the commission.

The hearings start today, Monday 24 April, and are expected to last all week.



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