Microsoft ruling imminent

21 December 2004 Software powerhouse Microsoft will find out on Wednesday if sanctions imposed on it resulting from European Commission charges of anti-competitive behaviour, are to stand.

A senior European judge will inform Microsoft on Wednesday whether sanctions imposed on it by Commission competition regulators will be enforced.

In March 2004, the software maker was found guilty on abusing its dominant position in desktop operating system. The European Commission fined Microsoft €497 million (£342m) and ordered the vendor to release a version of its Windows operating system without its Media Player software. It was also ordered to share its prized server source code with third party software makers.

Microsoft has appealed against the decision. The president of the European Court of First Instance, Bo Vesterdorf, is expected to give his verdict on the appeal tomorrow. Technically he only has to decide whether sanctions would cause irreparable damage to Microsoft, but he is also expected to evaluate the merits of Brussels’ case against the software giant which has lasted five years.

Since the original decision, Microsoft has worked furiously to draw the sting out of the Commission’s case against it. It has spent $2.1 billion in settling claims made by rival vendors such as Sun Microsystems and trade body the Computer and Communications Industry Association, both of which had previously supported the EC case.

A decision backing the Commission could trigger a wave of anti-monopoly complaints against the software giant in other areas of the software market. On the other hand, if he implies the Commission’s economic or legal analysis is flawed, a powerful precedent against future action would be established.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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