Europe issues ultimatum to Microsoft

The European Commission has accused Microsoft of trying to monopolise new markets despite the settlement of anti-trust action in the US, claiming that "Microsoft's abuses are still ongoing."

The EC has offered the company a "last opportunity" to defend itself or agree to open up a number of the markets in which it competes. "We have reserved the possibility to levy fines," said a European Union spokesman."We have so much material now and we have such a strong case, that from our perspective the legal and factual analysis is complete and allows us to adopt a final decision.”

A Microsoft spokesman said the company was considering its official response. "We are examining [the] contents [of the EU statement] thoroughly now to assess the concerns in detail," he said. "It is somewhat unfortunate as it lengthens the proceedings that have already been going on for three years. [But] we take this investigation very seriously and will work hard to focus our efforts, responding to concerns and bringing this to a positive resolution."

The EU has the power to fine Microsoft up to $US3 billion dollars, require it to unbundle Windows Media Player (WMP) from Windows or offer a Windows version that also includes rival media player software as well as open up its server software application programming interfaces (APIs) to competitors.

Microsoft has 30 days to submit a formal response to the Commission. After that, the EU will issue its decision. If the EU does rule against Microsoft as expected, it will likely be the biggest legal setback the company has ever faced.

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