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9/27/2004
01:26 PM
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Microsoft: Ready To Comply With EU Order If Appeal Fails

Even as Microsoft appeals a finding that it broke antitrust rules, the company says it has spent millions to make a stripped-down version of Windows.

Microsoft said Monday it is ready to put a stripped-down version of Windows on the market if it fails this week to persuade a judge to suspend a landmark European Union antitrust decision.

Microsoft is appealing a ruling the EU made in March that included a record $600 million fine as well as orders to hand over software code to rivals in the server market and to change the way it packages its own Media Player software into Windows.

"We'll certainly be ready to comply," Microsoft's chief lawyer, Brad Smith, said at a news conference. He said the U.S. software giant had "spent millions of dollars over the past few months" to prepare a version of its ubiquitous operating system that would satisfy EU regulators.

In the past, Microsoft has said it would face difficulties implementing the Media Player order, arguing that the software for playing digital audio and video was integral to other functions of the operating system, such as the "help" system.

The European Commission ordered it to offer a version of Windows without the Media Player to allow rival makers like RealNetworks Inc. a better shot at landing on consumers' desktops.

The two sides will face off Thursday and Friday before the president of the Luxembourg-based European Court of First Instance, Bo Vesterdorf, who will decide whether to freeze the EU's punishment pending a final decision on the appeal, which could take several years.

Smith said Microsoft also submitted detailed information to the court on the patents, copyrights and trade secrets it believes would be violated by the EU order to license its communication protocols, which allow servers to share information. Vesterdorf had asked for the information.

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