EU cautioned on any Microsoft break-up

A former U.S. justice official who tried to break up Microsoft seven years ago has urged the European Commission to tread cautiously if it tries to do the same.

European Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes, frustrated by what she sees as Microsoft's defiance of the law, recently raised the question of whether the U.S. software giant should be broken up.

But one of the American architects of a previous break-up bid says Europeans should proceed cautiously, if at all. So far there are no indications that could happen, and experts consider it unlikely.

The European Commission, Europe's top antitrust regulator, has never broken up a company for abusing its market dominance, although it has required major divestments by firms seeking permission to merge.

The former U.S. official and other legal experts say the EU executive could theoretically impose such a solution on Microsoft as the price of doing business in Europe.


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