EU May Force Change in Microsoft Windows

Going beyond Microsoft Corp.'s settlement of U.S. antitrust charges, the European Union wants to force the software giant to offer computer makers a version of Windows without any multimedia program to give rival companies a better shot at getting their products on consumers' desktops, sources said Wednesday. Such an order—expected this month barring a last-minute settlement—would be sure to be instantly challenged in European courts by Microsoft. The company insists removing its Media Player program would compromise other parts of its flagship operating system.

Taking out Media Player also could undermine Microsoft's long-term strategy of keeping Windows on top by incorporating new functions, which it argues benefits consumers. Rivals from Netscape to RealNetworks have repeatedly challenged the practice as unfair competition. European Commission spokeswoman Amelia Torres refused to comment on specific remedies being sought. But, she said, "the draft decision contains clear remedies to the identified illegal conduct, remedies which will restore a competitive marketplace for consumers in Europe." A Microsoft spokesman also declined to comment on details, repeating only the company is "working actively with the European Commission toward an amicable settlement of this case."

News source: eWeek

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