Microsoft vs. EU, Day Two: Microsoft Foes Take the Stand as New Charges Arise

   Taking the stand today for the second day in Brussels, Belgium, Microsoft lawyers again argued that the company hasn't broken European antitrust laws. Yesterday, Microsoft mounted a multimedia offensive in which the company visually demonstrated the competition that Windows Media Player (WMP) faces, how competitors can easily interoperate with Windows Server, and the choices consumers have. The company designed the demonstrations to thwart European charges that it's continuing to abuse its monopoly power, but the high-tech road show might have served to further alienate European Commission (EC) members, and at least one critic deridingly referred to the demonstration as a mobile "Hollywood movie studio."
   A Microsoft representative noted after yesterday's hearings that the company felt it did well defending itself. "During our time today, Microsoft's technical and economic experts presented information on server operating systems and multimedia playback technologies," he said.
   Microsoft will conclude its arguments about halfway through today's hearings, which could last well into the night. Yesterday, the first day of hearings didn't wrap up until after 8:00 P.M. After Microsoft concludes, the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSF Europe), an anti-Microsoft trade group, and representatives of Microsoft competitor Novell will take the stand. Tomorrow, representatives from RealNetworks and Sun Microsystems will testify, as will two Microsoft-friendly trade groups. Finally, the software giant will get an hour and a half to make a final statement before the hearings conclude.
   In related news, Microsoft's antitrust battle in Europe got uglier this week when European regulators confirmed that they're opening a new front of attack, investigating Microsoft-competitor claims that the company designed Windows XP to shut out competition. If the European Union (EU) investigation turns up evidence corroborating these claims, Microsoft will face yet another round of charges. EU antitrust regulators describe the new investigation as "totally separate" from the charges Microsoft is now responding to in the Brussels hearings. Microsoft dismissed the new charges as "nothing new."

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