EU Antitrust Chief Has Unsettled Feeling About Microsoft

   European Union (EU) Commissioner for Competition Neelie Kroes said yesterday that the European Commission was still examining whether Microsoft was violating the terms of the 2004 EU antitrust ruling against the company. According to the ruling, Microsoft is required to pay a massive fine, release a version of Windows XP in Europe that doesn't include Windows Media Player (WMP), and give competitors server interoperability information.
To date, the company has yet to ship the XP version that doesn't include WMP, although it attempted to slip by in January with the bizarrely named XP Reduced Media Edition. However, the EU demurred, noting that the name was objectionable and would likely cause potential customers to avoid the product. In short, the name violated the spirit of the EU ruling, which requires Microsoft to not price or package the new Windows version in such a way that would make it less desirable to consumers.
Kroes said that the EU has finished test marketing new
names for the WMP-less XP version but declined to announce which name was chosen. The Commission is also examining Microsoft's compliance with the server interoperability information condition and recently reported to the EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee that it was too early to determine whether Microsoft was meeting its requirements.
In related news, the EU Court of First Instance, which will oversee Microsoft's antitrust trial, has approved the list of companies and organizations that will provide opinions for the case. The Court says that five organizations will support Microsoft, and four will support the Commission. Various trade groups are backing Microsoft, whereas companies such as RealNetworks and the Free Software Foundation (FSF) Europe will support the Commission. Dubbed intervenors by the Court, representatives of these organizations will provide live and written testimony in the case.

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