Microsoft still hopeful for EC settlement

Microsoft still hopes to settle with the European Commission over the sanctions ordered against it to correct its anticompetitive...

Microsoft still hopes to settle with the European Commission over the sanctions ordered against it to correct its anticompetitive behaviour, even as its appeal of the case winds its way through the legal channels.

"We definitely want to settle. We just said it in court and I'll say it again," said Jean-Philippe Courtois, Microsoft's chief executive officer for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), at the Etre technology conference in Cannes.

Last March, the commission ruled that Microsoft had abused its dominance in the PC operating systems market to gain an advantage in related markets, such as that for media players.

It ordered the company to pay a fine of €497m (£342m) and offer a version of its operating system without the Windows Media Player. It also ordered it to reveal enough Windows code to allow rivals to build competing server software that works well with Windows.

The software maker is trying to get those behavioural remedies suspended pending its appeal. The request for a suspension is being considered by the European Union's Court of First Instance, which held a two-day hearing on the matter.

"We agreed on a settlement initially, but the commission felt that it had to set a precedent," Courtois said. The sanctions set a worrisome precedent because they will affect companies' ability to innovate, he argued.

"At the core of the issue is innovation. We want to be able to innovate, to make a plan and to act on it," said Courtois, who oversees Microsoft's business in some 60 countries.

The record fine, which Microsoft has paid and is being held in a special account until the case concludes, and the unbundling of Windows Media Player, were not of real concern for the company, he said.

Scarlet Pruitt writes for IDG News Service

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