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Microsoft court case to test EU antitrust power

17 сентября 2007

A European Union court rules on Monday whether Microsoft abused its near-monopoly on computer operating systems to push out rivals, in a protracted case that has major implications on the EU's power to enforce antitrust policy.

The executive European Commission decided in 2004 that Microsoft used its Windows operating system, running on 95 percent of the world's computers and servers, to choke off competing makers of server and streaming media software.
The Commission fined the software giant a record 497 million euros ($690 million) and ordered it to change its business practices. Microsoft appealed, so a special 13-judge panel at the Court of First Instance will decide who was right.
The bloc's second-highest court, based in Luxembourg, will hand down its ruling on live television on Monday shortly after 9:30 a.m (0730 GMT).
It will rule whether the Commission was right to say Microsoft could not bundle its Windows Media Player with its Windows operating system because it was aimed at hurting rivals such as RealNetworks, once dominant in the field.
It will also decide whether the Commission was wrong to order Microsoft to produce a version of Windows without the player software. Few bought that version of Windows.
Today, media software is used to watch Google's YouTube, download Apple iTunes or listen to Webcasts.
The court will also rule whether Microsoft has to make available information to rival server software makers so that their software runs as smoothly on Windows.
The Commission ordered Microsoft to do that and has fined it an additional 280.5 million euros because it says the company is not yet in compliance with that decision.
Finally, the court will rule whether to cut the Commission's original fine on Microsoft.
If the Commission's power is preserved, no matter whether the sanctions are thrown out, it will be able to press ahead against Microsoft on a series of other pending complaints.
Companies around the world are waiting to see whether the court will cut into the Commission's power.
If the court's ruling criticizes the Commission's work in this complex, high-tech case, the Commission will have to rethink its strategy in cases and complaints involving Intel, Qualcomm, Rambus and others.

Источник: Reuters

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