EU to get tough with Microsoft

The European Union looks set to maintain a hard line approach in its antitrust case against Microsoft, demanding that bundled...

The European Union looks set to maintain a hard line approach in its antitrust case against Microsoft, demanding that bundled software such as Windows Media Player be completely removed from the operating system.

The EU argues that bundled software keeps out competitor software, such as Real Networks' Real Player software.

In the US case Microsoft has insisted that unbundling would not be easy and would set the company back several years, but Robin Bloor, chief executive of Bloor Research, believes Microsoft is just fighting to maintain its advantage.

"I have no doubt it could remove the software. It is just a question of what it is willing to sacrifice - and Microsoft does not want to sacrifice bundling," he said.

The EU has been investigating Microsoft for three years and, in addition to removing Media Player, Microsoft could also be fined up to 10% of its turnover if it is found to have behaved anticompetitively.

Bloor said he doubted that the EU would force major changes to Microsoft technology, because the US Department of Justice has reduced its demands on the company.

If the current bullish EU attitude prevails, Microsoft will be forced to offer two versions of Windows, one with the Media Player and the other without, or possibly even a third, with it disabled, Bloor said.

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