European Commission accuses Microsoft of 'ongoing abuses'

The European Commission (EC) is giving Microsoft a final opportunity to comment before it makes a ruling in its four-year...

The European Commission is giving Microsoft a final opportunity to comment before it makes a ruling in its four-year antitrust probe of the software maker, and it warned that it believes Microsoft's abuses "are still ongoing".

The commission made the comments in light of new evidence it has gathered from a widespread market inquiry of consumers, suppliers and competitors.

"This evidence confirms and, in many respects, bolsters the commission's earlier finding that Microsoft is leveraging its dominant position from the PC into low-end servers and that Microsoft's tying of Windows Media Player to the Windows PC operating system weakens competition on the merits, stifles product innovation and, ultimately, reduces consumer choice," the commission said in a release.

The commission also offered Microsoft the opportunity to comment on a series of proposed remedies it intends to impose.

To achieve full interoperability between Windows PCs and low-end servers, the commission is suggesting that Microsoft reveal interface information, allowing rival server suppliers to compete on a level playing field.

The commission also proposed two remedies with respect to the bundling of Windows Media Player with the Windows operating system. Either the software maker can untie the player by offering a version of Windows without it, or the EC will impose a "must carry" provision, obliging Microsoft to offer competing players with the OS.

The company is being invited by the commission to offer a final statement of objections regarding the remedies.

"We are determined to ensure that the final outcome of this case is to the benefit of innovation and consumers alike," said competition commissioner Mario Monti said.

Representatives for Microsoft in Europe were not immediately available to comment on the latest commission statements.

Scarlet Pruitt writes for IDG News Service

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