EU Antitrust Czar Denies Microsoft Feud

September 20, 2006

The European Union’s antitrust chief said Tuesday she had no personal feud with Microsoft Corp. despite an ongoing legal fight between her office and the software company.”Far from pursuing a vendetta against Microsoft, the Commission’s actions are guided by the desire to create the most innovation- friendly business climate in Europe to the ultimate benefit of European consumers,” Neelie Kroes wrote in a letter to the Financial Times.

The EU antitrust commissioner said she is trying to ensure that Windows Vista, the new version of Microsoft’s computer operating system, complies with EU competition rules.

Microsoft had no immediate comment on the letter.

European Union officials have warned Microsoft not to shut out rivals in the security software market, as the company plans to launch Vista with built-in protection against hackers and malicious programs.

Microsoft has said it is concerned that regulators might require the removal of some of the new security features, and warned that EU actions could delay the launch of Vista in Europe.

Kroes said the Commission has provided Microsoft with guidance on Vista and has regularly detailed its concerns.

“There appears to be a co-ordinated campaign to portray the Commission in a negative light,” Kroes wrote. “For example, I have seen it suggested that the Commission may seek to prevent Microsoft from improving the security of its operating system.

“This is categorically not the case,” she said.

Microsoft is still embroiled in a long-running legal challenge to the EU’s 2004 antitrust order, which found the company broke competition law and fined it a record 497 million euros ($613 million). The EU subsequently fined the company another 280.5 million euros ($357 million) for failing to obey that antitrust order.

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