Microsoft won't bother with EU hearing

Microsoft wanted the European Commission to reschedule a hearing at which Redmond would be be able to defend itself against the EU's conclusion that tying IE to Windows is anticompetitive. The reason: Microsoft's top antitrust staff would be attending a big conference in Zurich.

Microsoft wanted the European Commission to reschedule a hearing at which Redmond would be be able to defend itself against the EU's conclusion that tying IE to Windows is anticompetitive. The reason: Microsoft's top antitrust staff would be attending a big conference in Zurich.

The EU declined. Microsoft's response: Just forget it.

The dates the Commission selected for our hearing, June 3-5, coincide with the most important worldwide intergovernmental competition law meeting, the International Competition Network (ICN) meeting, which will take place this year in Zurich, Switzerland. The ICN meeting will be especially well attended this year because it will be the first international meeting attended by representatives of the Obama administration.

As a result, it appears that many of the most influential Commission and national competition officials with the greatest interest in our case will be in Zurich and so unable to attend our hearing in Brussels. We raised concerns about this scheduling conflict with the Commission the very same day we were notified of the proposed hearing date. We asked the Commission to consider alternative dates and expressed our serious concern that holding a hearing during the same days as the ICN would make it much more difficult for the Commission’s and Member States’ key decision makers to attend. We pointed out that there’s no legal or other reason that the hearing needs to be held the first week of June. We believe that holding the hearing at a time when key officials are out of the country would deny Microsoft our effective right to be heard and hence deny our “rights of defense” under European law.

AP reports that an EU spokeswoman said "the commission couldn't see any reason to postpone."

So Microsoft will have to let its written response speak as regulators consider adding fines to the €1.7 billion fine already levied against Microsoft.

Windows 7 is supposed to let users shut off IE if they want, something you can't do now.