Sunday, October 02, 2005

Microsoft CEO to meet with EU regulators

Microsoft CEO to meet with EU regulators: "Microsoft CEO to meet with EU regulators

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- Microsoft Corp.'s chief executive, Steve Ballmer, will meet with the European Union's antitrust chief next week, her spokesman said Friday, as the world's biggest software company appeals a March 2004 ruling by EU regulators.

"Neelie Kroes planned to meet Ballmer over breakfast Wednesday to discuss general antitrust issues, EU spokesman Jonathan Todd said.

Earlier this month, Kroes said her department had received new informal complaints about Microsoft, perhaps leading to the opening of a new case.

Microsoft said the meeting had no specific agenda.

"It is part of the regular dialogue between Microsoft and the commission on a range of policy issues," company spokesman Tom Brookes said.

Regulators from the European Union ruled last year that Microsoft had abused its near monopoly in desktop computer systems to illegally dominate the media software market and threaten the position of competitors selling office networking software.

The European Commission fined Microsoft 497 million euros ($599 million) and ordered it to share code with rivals and to offer an unbundled version of Windows without the Media Player software.

Redmond-based Microsoft is appealing the ruling but in the meantime has produced a Windows version without its bundled Media Player.

A question remains over Microsoft's promise to give rival software makers some cost-free, additional access to its software protocols -- the complex and closely guarded procedures that allow software programs to interact with operating platforms such as Windows.

Microsoft and EU regulators have not been able to agree on which material should be free and which codes should be paid for.

The EU spokesman also said Ballmer planned to meet with Siim Kallas, the European Commission's vice president in charge of administration.

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