Microsoft set to appeal EC ruling

Mario Monti and the European Commission have made their decision - but Microsoft's fightback could take several more years

Microsoft will appeal the European Commission's record €497m fine and ask the courts to suspend the antitrust sanctions imposed on it until a final judgement is reached.

Brad Smith, general counsel for Microsoft, said in a conference call that a final ruling is likely to drag on for many years yet.

"This case has another four or five years of litigation ahead of it," he said. "The EC has had the first word but the European courts will have the final word."

He described the EC ruling as "negative" and "unfortunate" and said it offered consumers less choice than Redmond's proposed settlement, which was dismissed last week.

"This is a path that gives consumers less value for their euro," he said.

Smith revealed that Microsoft had offered to ship globally the Windows desktop operating system with both its own media player software and that of a rival.

As part of the appeal process Microsoft will ask the European Court of First Instance to suspend the EC order to offer a stripped-down version of Windows within 90 days and open up its server APIs and protocols to rivals within 120 days.

"We will ask the court to suspend sanctions in both areas," said Smith.

One of the areas that Microsoft will pursue as part of its appeal is that the EC decision "infringes its IP rights in Europe" and "runs foul" of World Trade Organisation agreements with the European Union.