Microsoft to meet EU court

Microsoft's efforts to delay or reverse anti-competition sanctions imposed by the European Union have reached the next stage in...

Microsoft's efforts to delay or reverse anti-competition sanctions imposed by the European Union have reached the next stage in Luxembourg when officials from the software maker and the European Commission attend an "informal meeting" with the president of the European Court.

The meeting, to which other "interested parties" have been invited, was called so that the practicalities and timetable of Microsoft's application for a suspension can be discussed.

The court president is considering a request by Microsoft that it suspend the commission's competition remedies against Microsoft until the court decides whether to affirm or annul the decision, a process that is expected to take between three and five years.

On 24 March, the commission ruled that Microsoft violated competition law by using its dominance in the PC operating system market to gain an advantage in the markets for media players and workgroup server operating systems.

The commission imposed a fine of £328m. Microsoft paid the fine earlier this month, which is currently being held in an escrow account pending the results of Microsoft's appeal.

More pressing for Microsoft, and the European software market in general, are the remedies imposed by the commission. Microsoft was ordered to supply a version of the Windows operating system without its media player and also to reveal enough Windows code to allow rivals to build competing server software that can work properly with Windows.

The remedy deadlines were 28 June and 27 July respectively, but on 27 June the commission temporarily suspended those deadlines until the Microsoft application for interim measures was ruled on by the court.

Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith said the company needed greater clarification from the commission in terms of knowing what files needed to be removed from Windows in order to comply with its order.

But, according to sources familiar with the case, the commission based its ruling on technical information supplied by Microsoft itself, giving the clarification request the appearance to some of being little more than a delaying tactic.

Laura Rohde writes for IDG News Service



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