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Germany

Microsoft to Face European Commission

The world's biggest software producer Microsoft is once again in hot water over anti-trust allegations.

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Microsoft recently launched the next version of Windows in Europe. The same software has it in trouble with the European Commission.

This time, with the the European Commission. Mario Monti, European Union competition chief said that a hearing was scheduled for December 20 and 21 in Brussels to ascertain whether Microsoft was being anti-competitive. This at a time when Microsoft's top lawyer, who led its defense against the landmark government antitrust lawsuit in the US, announces his retirement.

Earlier this year, the Commission said it was making enquiries as to whether Microsoft is purposefully attempting to prevent competitive companies from gaining market share. Essentially, Microsoft embeds its own Media Player, audio and video software, into its Windows operating system. Thereby, making it very difficult for users without the technological know-how to change it. Furthermore, the consumer doesn't have a choice and rival companies don't stand a chance.

The Commission is also looking at whether Microsoft designed its Windows operating system to work better with its own servers than those of rivals. Microsoft officially replied last Friday to the commission's statement of objections and laid out its side of the story. Commission staff are examining Microsoft's reply.

Microsoft and the US Justice Department announced a settlement of their three-year anti-trust case earlier this month. After spending 375 million dollars in settlement fees, Microsoft has accepted restrictions on its business practices and has managed to side-step harsher penalties.

Microsoft said on Tuesday it had reached a deal to settle a further raft of private anti-trust cases in the US that would see it spending more than 1 billion dollars. Microsoft plans to make good in the USA by equipping some of the poorest schools with top-of-the-range software and computers.

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