Date set for EU anti-trust decision on Microsoft

The European Commission is expected to announce its final decision in a long-running anti-trust case against US software giant Microsoft on March 24, officials said Friday. Microsoft, whose Windows operating system is installed in 90 percent of all personal computers, is accused in Europe of trying to squelch rival products to its Windows Media Player software, such as RealPlayer and Apple QuickTime. After a more than five-year investigation, specialists working for EU competition commissioner Mario Monti concluded in a preliminary finding last month that Microsoft had in fact infringed EU competition rules.

The commission will discuss that preliminary finding with anti-trust experts from EU countries at two meetings this month, on March 15 and 22, before taking a decision at its weekly Wednesday meeting on March 24, sources said. Microsoft has also been accused of seeking to squeeze out other firms in the market for "low-end servers" -- computers that provide e-mail and other services to multiple users. Last month officials indicated that Brussels could offer a "soft" compromise deal to settle the Microsoft case, letting the company decide itself which intellectual property rights it surrendered. Such a deal would avoid legal appeals which would likely follow a firmer Brussels slap for the group.

News source: EU Business

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