Judge to reach Microsoft decision by Christmas

Judge to reach Microsoft decision by Christmas

The European Union judge deciding whether Microsoft will have to reform its business practices will continue to take into account arguments made by Novell and a prominent technology industry group, despite settlements reached between Microsoft and those two parties earlier this month, a Microsoft spokesman said Thursday.

The judge at the European Union's (E.U.'s) Court of First Instance in Luxembourg, Bo Vesterdorf, also indicated that he would decide before Christmas whether to suspend the sanctions imposed by the European Commission against Microsoft to correct its anticompetitive behavior, according to a source familiar with the case.

The developments came at a meeting in Luxembourg Thursday between Microsoft lawyers, the complainants and Commission representatives.

At the meeting, which lasted less than half an hour, Vesterdorf asked the parties whether they felt that evidence submitted by Novell and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) should be struck from the record following settlements reach by Microsoft earlier this month with Novell and the CCIA, under which the two complainants withdrew from the case.

"All parties in the meeting agreed, as Microsoft has always maintained, that Novell and CCIA's past filings should remain on the record," the Microsoft spokesman said after the meeting. "Our settlements with Novell and CCIA are focused on our relations with the industry going forward."

"We look forward to the judge's decision and, more importantly, to progressing the broader appeal," he said.

A court official confirmed that arguments and documents submitted by Novell and the CCIA would remain in the case file and not be retracted.

A spokesman for the Commission reiterated its position that despite the departure of the two parties, the facts of the case remain unchanged.

Following the settlements with Novell and CCIA, Real Networks is now the only company actively backing the Commission's case against Microsoft.

Judge Vesterdorf also indicated Thursday that he would reveal by Dec. 18 or Dec. 20 whether he will suspend the measures demanded by the Commission in its March decision against Microsoft pending the outcome of its appeal.

In its decision, the Commission ordered the company to offer a version of Windows without Windows Media Player, to publish APIs (application programming interfaces) that let companies to make products that work well with its server software, and to pay a fine of Euro 497 million, or about US$600 million.

Microsoft has appealed the ruling and asked for the Commission's measures to be suspended pending the final verdict of the European Court of Justice on whether the sanctions are justified.

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