Microsoft to Appeal European Sanctions

The software giant says removing Media Player will break Windows.

Microsoft Corp. is appealing the sanctions the European Commission imposed today on Microsoft for anti-competitive behavior, giving the company 90 days to offer a version of the Windows operating system without Media Player and 120 days to disclose greater interface information so rival servers can interoperate with Microsoft products.

/zimages/5/28571.gifFor more on the EUs decision, read "EU Hits Microsoft With Record Fine."

As pledged at the collapse of settlement negotiations with the commission last week, Microsoft will appeal the decision to the European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg. The company will ask the court to suspend parts of the ruling, including the order to produce a version of Windows without Media Player, Brad Smith, Microsoft general counsel, said today.

After a five-year investigation, the commission ruled that Microsoft uses its "near monopoly" in the desktop operating system market to create an illegal advantage in related software markets. By playing on the interoperability of Windows and its servers, Microsoft was able to override other factors of server performance offered by rivals, the commission found. Microsoft is required to disclose interface information that allows other servers to comparably interoperate with Microsoft products.

The order also prohibits Microsoft from using "any commercial, technological or contractual terms" that would make the unbundled version of Windows less attractive. "In particular, [Microsoft] must not give PC manufacturers a discount conditional on their buying Windows together with [Windows Media Player]," the commission said.

"Dominant companies have a special responsibility to ensure that the way they do business doesnt prevent competition on the merits and does not harm consumers and innovation," said European Competition Commissioner Mario Monti. "Todays decision restores the conditions for fair competition in the markets concerned and establish clear principles for the future conduct of a company with such a strong dominant position."

Next page: Microsoft: Remedies will break Windows.