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Microsoft Set To Ship Vista On Schedule Despite Antitrust Concerns

by Ulrika Lomas, for, Brussels

25 October 2006

Earlier this month, Microsoft confirmed that it is on track to deliver Windows Vista for worldwide availability to its volume license business customers in November and for worldwide general availability in January.

The company also confirmed that it would be releasing Windows Vista in Europe and Korea on schedule, following what the company called “constructive dialogue” with the European Commission and the Korea Fair Trade Commission.

In March of this year, EU Competition Commissioner, Neelie Kroes wrote to Microsoft's chief executive, Steve Ballmer with regard to the launch of the new operating system.

Ms Kroes reportedly voiced concerns - also expressed by Microsoft's rivals - that Vista would come packaged with search functions, anti-spyware programs and digital rights management software which would put its competitors' products at a disadvantage.

Speaking to reporters at the time, EC spokesman Jonathon Todd confirmed that:

"We are concerned about the possibility that the next Vista operating system will include various elements which are currently available separately from Microsoft or other companies."

He went on to add:

"We assume that Microsoft has its own interests at heart. It wants to launch another product without having to worry about the Commission instituting various actions under antitrust law."

However, commenting this month on the planned rollout, Mr Ballmer announced that:

“We are excited to bring the security enhancements and innovative new features of Windows Vista to our customers and partners around the world, and we are committed to adhering to local law in every region of the world."

Microsoft agreed to make a number of changes to Windows Vista in response to the concerns expressed by the European Commission, and has also incorporated changes to Windows Vista in Korea to comply with its legal obligations there.

“We recognize that the European Commission does not give ‘green lights’ for new products, and we have not asked for one,” General Counsel Brad Smith observed, continuing:

“We appreciate the constructive dialogue we have had with the commission and the guidance the commission has provided. Based on this guidance, we have made changes to ensure that we’re in compliance with our competition law obligations, and we are moving forward to make Windows Vista available on a worldwide basis.”

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