06/06 - EU won't issue Microsoft probe deadline - East Valley Tribune: Business

06/06 - EU won't issue Microsoft probe deadline

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Posted: Friday, June 6, 2003 11:03 am | Updated: 1:42 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Union said Friday it will resist announcing a deadline for its four-year antitrust investigation of Microsoft Corp.

In mid-March, the European Commission said that its antitrust regulators had been wrestling with the legal and political implications of cracking down on the U.S. software giant and that a final ruling was months away.

Asked for an update at a regular news briefing Friday, EU spokeswoman Amelia Torres said "we will now resist media pressure" to offer deadlines.

"From now on, no more predictions," she said.

The EU accuses Microsoft of illegally tying its media player into its Windows operating system and withholding key information from rivals to try to win more of the market in software for computer servers.

The Commission has been wrestling with how far to push Microsoft for remedies, such as an order to spin off its media player, which lets computer users listen to music and watch video clips.

According to The New York Times, the Commission sent a questionnaire to music and movie companies two months ago, asking them how they view the technologies they use to disseminate material over the Internet.

Microsoft argues that its 2002 settlement with U.S. authorities, combined with additional steps it has taken, should satisfy European regulators.

The Commission also is studying complaints Microsoft is leveraging its Windows monopoly into new markets, including mobile phones.

EU officials are wary after the trans-Atlantic row that erupted in 2001 when they vetoed the merger of U.S. companies General Electric and Honeywell. EU Antitrust Commissioner Mario Monti also has been treading carefully since European courts criticized his team for sloppy casework last year and overturned three decisions.

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