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EU to fine Microsoft for trade abuse

Brussels, Aug. 6 (Reuters): US software giant Microsoft Corp faces a European Commission fine over charges it abused the dominance of its Windows operating system and may be ordered to share vital software with competitors.

The EU’s executive body said today it would give Microsoft one final chance to comment before taking action, adding it was confident its case could weather rigorous legal scrutiny.

“The commission’s preliminary conclusion is that Microsoft’s abuses are still ongoing,” it said in a statement.

The commission gave no clear indication of how much the fine would be, although whatever the amount, it is unlikely to make much of a dent in Microsoft’s $49 billion in cash holdings.

It also intends to order the firm to share crucial interface protocols for computer servers with competitors and change the way it distributes its Windows Media Player software, which lets personal computers play music and video.

A final decision, which may still be months away and would set a timetable for new mandatory business practices, can be appealed to EU courts.

But an appeal would not freeze the effect of the commission’s decision.

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