EU Mum on Microsoft Settlement Proposal

The European Commission is staying mum about reports in the Financial Times and wire services that it has rejected an offer from Microsoft to settle its antitrust case by bundling competitors’ software on CD-ROMs with its computers.

“We have no comment on the Financial Times report, just as we have not commented on previous reports,” EC spokeswoman Amelia Torres told

The latest comes a few weeks after it was revealed that the European Union’s competition division has concluded its anti-trust case against Microsoft and is circulating a draft of its ruling.

The EC brought anti-trust charges against Microsoft in response to a 1998 complaint by Sun Microsystems and other companies that compete with Microsoft. Among the issues on the settlement table is the charge that Microsoft may have acted illegally by incorporating its new Media Player product into its Windows operating system.

Since last November, European regulators have also 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.

However, Torres said the European Union’s competition division is getting ready to make a final decision on the antitrust case against Microsoft. “We are close to completing our investigation,” she said. Word of the decision is widely expected to come in early March.

The Financial Times, Reuters and the Associated Press all reported that European Union regulators rejected Microsoft’s offer to distribute competing software on CD-ROMs.

Quoting anonymous sources close to the situation, the reports said Microsoft’s competitors were not happy with the proposal because they thought the “pick-up rate for software provided on such CD-ROMs is extremely low.”

A Microsoft spokesman was not immediately available for comment on the report.

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