Vista Faces ‘Difficult Position’ in Europe

Microsoft  wants to ship a legal version of Vista in Europe but says it still doesn’t know what the ground rules are.

The Redmond, Wash.-based software vendor has said that it won’t ship the product to that market until the European Commission clarifies its stance.

The Commission, for its part, says it has already said everything it has to say.

“That leaves us in a rather difficult position,” Tom Brookes, a Microsoft spokesman, told

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told European Commissioner Neelie Kroes that Microsoft may not ship Vista to Europe at all if it doesn’t get more clarity.

Brookes said Microsoft has made a number of proposals to the commission regarding what will be included with the new operating system, but is still waiting for a response.

He acknowledged that, since the commission has said that no response will be forthcoming, the next move is up to Microsoft.

As for what that will be, he said, “we’ll have to wait and see.”

Microsoft may have gained a little bit of leverage against the commission today, thanks to a report by research firm IDC showing that Vista will drive employment and growth in the European market.

The report, sponsored by Microsoft, claims that Vista installations will drive 50 percent of the growth in IT employment.

It also said that the ecosystem beyond Microsoft will reap almost 14 euro in revenues for every euro of revenue that Microsoft derives from Windows Vista in 2007.

In 2007, this ecosystem should sell over $40 billion in products and services revolving around Windows Vista.

Microsoft has reason to be leery of the European Commission, which slapped it with a $357 million fine earlier this year.

The European regulators reproached Microsoft for continuing to abuse its dominant position in the desktop market.

Jonathan Todd, the European Commission spokesman on competition, said that the commission’s principles regarding bundling of products and interoperability are already reflected in its March 2004 antitrust decision against Microsoft.

“It is not up to the commission to give Microsoft a definitive ‘green light’ before Vista is put on the market. It’s up to Microsoft to accept and implement its responsibilities,” he told last week.

“The responsibility for ensuring that Vista complies fully with EU competition rules… lies not with the commission but with Microsoft,” he said in a statement.

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