EU accuses Microsoft of "ongoing abuses"

The European Commission (EC) said Wednesday that it is giving Microsoft Corp. a final opportunity to comment before it makes a ruling in its four-year antitrust probe of the software maker, and added that it believes Microsoft's abuses "are still ongoing."

The Commission made the comments in light of new evidence it has gathered from a widespread market inquiry of consumers, suppliers and competitors.

"This evidence confirms and in many respects bolsters the Commission's earlier finding that Microsoft is leveraging its dominant position from the PC into low-end servers and that Microsoft's tying of Windows Media Player to the Windows PC operating system weakens competition on the merits, stifles product innovation, and ultimately reduces consumer choice," the Commission said in a release.

The Commission also offered Microsoft the opportunity to comment on a series of proposed remedies it intends to impose.

In order to achieve full interoperability between Windows PCs and low-end servers, the Commission is suggesting that Microsoft reveal interface information, allowing rival server vendors to compete on a level playing field.

The EC also proposed two remedies with respect to the bundling of Windows Media Player with the Windows OS (operating system). Either the Redmond, Washington, software maker can untie the player by offering a version of Windows without it, or the EC will impose a "must carry" provision, obliging Microsoft to offer competing players with the OS.

The company is being invited by the EC to offer a final statement of objections regarding the remedies.

"We are determined to ensure that the final outcome of this case is to the benefit of innovation and consumers alike," Competition Commissioner Mario Monti said in a statement.

The EC's wrap-up of its antitrust probe comes after the U.S. government settled with the software maker last year, citing similar concerns over the bundling of products and dominance in the PC market.

Representatives for Microsoft in Europe were not immediately available to comment on the latest EC statements.

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