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Microsoft Hopes Its Appeal Will Blunt EU Decision

Microsoft is expected to move quickly to appeal the $613 million fine and tough sanctions leveled against it Wednesday by the European Union. The chief question now is whether Microsoft can obtain an injunction to put off the Competition Directorate decision while the case is on appeal--proceedings that could take years to resolve.

In announcing the stiff fine and sanctions for what it called Microsoft's "near monopoly," EU regulators placed tight time restrictions on Microsoft. First, the company was given 90 days to offer PC manufacturers two versions of its Windows operating system--one with Microsoft's Media Player included; another without the audio/video program. In addition, the company has 120 days to comply with an EU sanction compelling the firm to disclose Windows code that will make it easier for server manufacturers to work with Windows.

The EU's sanctions also call for the establishment of an advisory body to monitor Microsoft's future behavior.

At a press conference Wednesday, EU Competition Commissioner Mario Monti said: "I am confident that we have produced here a decision that will stand before any appeal." Microsoft is expected to file its appeal at the Court of the First Instance, in Luxembourg, within 90 days.

If the sanctions represent a defeat for Microsoft, they signify a victory for RealNetworks, which pushed the audio-video issue, and for Sun Microsystems, which pushed the server issue. Sun's 1998 complaint against Microsoft did much to get the case rolling in the EU. (See Timeline: EU's Pursuit Of Microsoft)

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