28 June 2004 The European Commission has agreed to Microsoft’s request to suspend the release of a Windows version without the Media Player until the appeal to the anti-monopoly ruling has been heard.
In a court ruling in March, the Commission fined Microsoft a record €497 million, after concluding that Microsoft had abused its dominance in the server and media player markets.
Microsoft was ordered to offer a version of Windows that does not include its Windows Media Player within 90 days. The latter was scheduled for release to the public by today. Microsoft was also ordered to share interface data with competitors by 27 July.
On Friday, Microsoft asked the Court of First Instance, the second highest judicial body in Europe, to suspend the Commission’s decision until the appeal case has been heard. This could take between three and five years. As a result of the new decision, Microsoft can now continue to exploit the markets in question until the outcome of the appeal case is known.
A Microsoft official, chief European counsel Horacio Gutierrez, said that if the proposed changes were made to Windows now, an eventual court-ordered reversal would have little real meaning.
The Commission is understandably disappointed with the court’s decision. According to a spokesperson, the Commission “believes that the remedies are reasonable, balanced and necessary to restore competition in the marketplace and there is a strong public interest in favour of implementing them without waiting for the judgement on the substance of the case.”