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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 March, 2004, 10:09 GMT
Microsoft in last-minute EU talks
Steve Ballmer
Is Steve Ballmer being all conciliatory?
Microsoft is holding last ditch talks with the European Commission before the publication of a report that could see it hit with vast fines and penalties.

With the Commission a week away from publishing its final anti-competition findings against the software giant, Microsoft appears to want a compromise.

So much so that chief executive Steve Ballmer has gone to Brussels to meet EU Competition Commissioner Mario Monti.

Both sides have said that negotiations are continuing.

"Discussions are ongoing, that's all I'll say," said Mr Monti's spokeswoman Amelia Torres.

Software goliath

The talks, continuting on Wednesday, come a day after a European Union competition panel unanimously backed the Commission's draft plan of action against Microsoft.

Reports say the Commission currently intends to force Microsoft to share proprietary details with rivals and provide a second, stripped-down version of its Windows system.

The Commission's final decision will be made on Wednesday, 24 March.

It has long been concerned about the dominance of Microsoft's Windows operating system.

Its current case argues that this dominance has prevented rival versions of multimedia software gaining a foothold, and that Microsoft has given too little information about how Windows works.

Commission officials have apparently worked and re-worked their draft to stand up to court scrutiny, since Microsoft is almost certain to appeal against any adverse decision.

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