The pressure on Microsoft is mounting, with the European Commission charging the company may be illegally tying its media player to its operating system and a U.S. judge putting the remedy phase of the companys antitrust trial in high gear.
The EC sent the company a Statement of Objections this week that questions the way it bundles new technologies into its upcoming Windows XP OS. "Microsoft may thereby deprive PC manufacturers and final users of a free choice over which products they want to have on their PCs," the statement said.
Microsoft officials were attending an annual company meeting and were unavailable for comment.
Meanwhile, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, appointed to the federal antitrust case, ordered Microsoft and the Department of Justice to file a "joint status report" about which areas of the case need to be aired before she makes a final decision on a punishment for the companys anticompetitive conduct. The report is due Sept. 14, and Kollar-Kotelly will hold a hearing Sept. 21.
The largest question remains whether the government will pursue the claim that Microsoft illegally tied its browser to its OS, which an appeals court said needed more examination. "It could easily slow down the case by a year," said Robert Lande, University of Baltimore law professor.