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Microsoft-EU antitrust talks collapse

A decision in the case will be released Wednesday

By Paul Meller
March 18, 2004 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - The European Commission's competition talks with Microsoft Corp. have collapsed, European Competition Commissioner Mario Monti said today.
In a prepared statement read to journalists, Monti said that despite strenuous efforts by Microsoft to meet the European Commission's concerns, a settlement of the case "has not been possible. Therefore, we will propose next Wednesday that the commission adopts a decision."
Monti added that a precedent-setting legal ruling is in the best interest of consumers and competition.
"We made substantial progress toward resolving the problems but were unable to agree on commitments [Microsoft must make] for future conduct," Monti said. "The public and competition would therefore be better served by a decision setting a strong legal precedent which establishes clear principles for a company that is so dominant in the market."
In response to questions, Monti said that setting a strong precedent is "of key importance." By setting a legal precedent in the current antitrust case against Microsoft, the commission will make it easier to pursue Microsoft in future antitrust cases, he said.
The commission is already examining a complaint by Microsoft rivals that the company is abusing its dominance in the market with the latest version of its operating system, Windows XP.
"Other cases [against Microsoft] that exist or are on the horizon [bear] remarkable similarities to issues raised in the current antitrust case due to conclude next Wednesday," Monti said.
Other issues the commission is investigating are how Microsoft sells its music- and video-playing software program, Media Player, and the company's current practice of bundling the program with its Windows operating system. The commission is expected to require that the company sell two versions of Windows to PC manufacturers: one with Media Player, and one with the program stripped out.
Also under question is server interoperability. It is understood that the commission also wants to force Microsoft to share enough secret Windows code with rivals so that they can design server software that works as smoothly with the ubiquitous operating system as Microsoft's own server software.
Microsoft wasn't immediately available to comment on Monti's statement but is expected to release a statement later today.

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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