EU to fine Microsoft in antitrust case

BRUSSELS--The European Commission said on Wednesday it intended to fine Microsoft for what it called continuing abuses of its dominant market position and force it to change the way it distributes its Media Player software. In its strongest statement yet in its long-running antitrust probe against the world's largest software company, the EU also said it could order Microsoft to open up the code for its computer server software to outside companies. An EU spokesman said the European Commission felt it had a strong case against Microsoft and the amount of the fine would be linked to the severity and duration of Microsoft's perceived offense.

"At this stage, we have so much evidence and we are in possession of such substantive a file that we believe any decision we take will withstand scrutiny of the European court,'' commission spokesman Tilman Lueder told a briefing. It accused Microsoft of leveraging its dominant position in media players, the software that plays movies and video on computers, and in low-end servers, which manage everything from Web sites to e-mail systems.

The EU said it was giving Microsoft a final chance to comment before it orders it to share crucial server software codes with competitors such as Sun Microsystems and Oracle and forces changes to the way it offers its media player, to the likely benefit of Real Networks and Apple Computer.

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