RealTime IT News

EU Distributes Draft of Microsoft Decision

The European Union commission has concluded its anti-trust case against Microsoft and is circulating a draft of its ruling, according to news reports published Monday.

Meantime, the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant told internetnews.com it continues to negotiate for a settlement. A final ruling on one of the last major pieces of Microsoft's legal troubles is expected this spring.

In 2000, the commission's competition division brought charges against Microsoft in response to a 1998 complaint by Sun Microsystems . The commission also alleged that Microsoft may have acted illegally by incorporating its new Media Player product into its Windows PC operating system. And, since November, European regulators have deliberated on whether Microsoft used illegal tactics in order to extend its dominant market share for personal computer operating systems into the market for low-end servers.

When the allegations were announced in 2000, EU Competition Commissioner Mario Monti said the commission wants "undistorted competition" in the media player market. The Microsoft anti-trust case is part of a broader initiative within the EU to ensure that technology can advance unfettered.

"Convergence is about to become a reality for consumers," Erkki Liikanen, the member of the European Commission responsible for Enterprise and the Information Society, told attendees of a public hearing on electronic communications on Monday. "Convergence highlights the need for interoperability of all layers. This is an area where industry needs to take the lead, but where public authorities need to be alert to market failures."

Microsoft spokesperson Jim Desler said his company hadn't seen the statement or the draft ruling, but he confirmed that Microsoft is still negotiating for a settlement.

"If what's being reported in the press is accurate," he said, "it's a normal part of the process. We remain committed to working toward an amicable resolution. Unless and until there is one, it's only natural that the commission would continue with the process."

Desler said Microsoft remains hopeful that it can settle before the commission rules, but added, "Only time will tell."