“Going beyond Microsoft Corp.’s settlement of U.S. antitrust charges, the European Union wants to force the software giant to offer computer makers a version of Windows without any multimedia program to give rival companies a better shot at getting their products on consumers’ desktops, sources said Wednesday,” Paul Geitner reports for The Associated Press.
“Such an order — expected this month barring a last-minute settlement — would be sure to be instantly challenged in European courts by Microsoft. The company insists removing its Media Player program would compromise other parts of its flagship operating system,” Geitner reports.
“Taking out Media Player also could undermine Microsoft’s long-term strategy of keeping Windows on top by incorporating new functions, which it argues benefits consumers. Rivals from Netscape to RealNetworks have repeatedly challenged the practice as unfair competition,” Geitner reports.
“The Commission, which conducted extensive market surveys a year ago, believes many manufacturers — and content providers — are uncomfortable relying solely on Microsoft and so rivals such as RealNetworks’ RealOne player and Apple’s QuickTime would get a better shot,” Geitner reports.
“The EU has already made a preliminary finding that Microsoft violated EU competition law by bundling its multimedia software into Windows, and by failing to provide competitors in the server market with enough programming code to allow their products to operate as well with Windows as Microsoft’s own,” Geitner reports. “To resolve the first abuse, the draft decision sent to national regulators for review last month would require Microsoft to offer computer manufacturers two versions of Windows: one with Media Player and one without, according to sources familiar with the case, speaking on condition of anonymity.”
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