View Full Version : Microsoft set for Brussels battle

Sam Burke
12-11-03, 12:39
Microsoft, the world's largest software company, is preparing for a battle with EU competition regulators.

The company is accused of abusing the dominance of its Windows operating system, used on about 90% of all computers.

Microsoft could face $3bn in fines and may be forced to reveal more of the code underlying its software.

The company has denied the claims and warned that a guilty verdict would mean a complete overhaul of how it operates.

The European Commission has been investigating Microsoft for the best part of four years.

Its accusations centre on two principal arguments.

First, it contends that by including a media player in the Windows package, Microsoft unfairly promotes the product at the expense of rivals such as Real Player and Apple Quicktime.

Second, that Microsoft is trying to corner the low-end server market by leveraging its leading position in personal computers. Servers are large computers which provide core services to PCs in corporate networks.

In its written response to the Commission, Microsoft said it had "provided extensive evidence to illustrate that significant consumer choice exists in the server operating systems and digital media markets today."

Rivals such as Sun Microsystems and RealNetworks also will give evidence during the three-day hearing in Brussels and are keen that regulators rein in their largest competitor.

The Commission has said that Microsoft should either offer a version of Windows without the media player attached, or offer rival services within its Windows package.

It also wants Microsoft to disclose more code to its competitors, allowing them to dovetail the different systems.

Even though a US court found in 2000 that Microsoft abused its monopoly, the Commission's preliminary conclusion was that Microsoft's abuses were different and still ongoing.

Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel, said he was hopeful that the hearing this week would lead to a settlement.

"It is another opportunity to continue our discussion," he said.