EU Microsoft Ruling Due This Year

European Union (EU) officials said yesterday that the EU will issue a ruling in its Microsoft antitrust investigation by the end of the year but not until after Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly rules in the company's US antitrust case. Judge Kollar-Kotelly is expected to issue a ruling on both the US Department of Justice (DOJ)/Microsoft proposed remedy and a separate set of remedies proposed by the so-called nonsettling states, which don't believe that the DOJ settlement is adequate to curb the company's illegal behavior.

"We will be in close consultation with the US on the issues it has addressed and is addressing," said Philip Lowe, who will soon take over the EU's competition directorate-general position that Mario Monti currently holds. Lowe said that the European Commission (EC)--the EU's antitrust authority--will expedite antitrust rulings under his leadership; the agency has been investigating Microsoft since 1998.

The EC's investigation differs dramatically from Microsoft's US antitrust problems. Rather than attacking Microsoft for its desktop domination, the EU is pursuing complaints that the company designs its server products to work well only with Microsoft software. "We are addressing questions of interoperability, which are not quite the same as the initial judgment and appeal \[in the US\]," Lowe said.

Microsoft had little to say about the news. "\[The company\] will continue to work cooperatively with the EC in seeking resolution of this matter," a Microsoft spokesperson said yesterday.

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