Europe weighs antitrust steps for Microsoft

Antitrust regulators from the 15 member nations of the European Union will gather in Brussels on March 15 to discuss a European Commission antitrust ruling against Microsoft, according to a diplomat close to one national regulator.

The commission has drafted a preliminary ruling that finds Microsoft guilty of abusing the dominant position of its Windows operating system--a finding that is expected to be supported by the national regulators, the diplomat said Wednesday. A second meeting will be convened within a week of the first one to discuss corrective measures to impose on Microsoft. The second gathering of the so-called advisory committee will also discuss how much to fine the company.

The commission typically makes a final ruling a few days after the second meeting. This ruling may come on March 23 or 24. The commission, which decides the timing of these meetings, declined to comment. Microsoft violated antitrust law on two counts, according to the draft ruling. By tying its music and video player software into Windows, Microsoft put rivals at an unfair competitive disadvantage. And by withholding information about how Windows works, the company hindered competitors in the market for server software that runs networks.

News source: C|Net News.com

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