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The European Commission is expanding its antitrust probe into Microsoft and whether its Media Player is illegally tied into Windows.

The EU watchdog is also opening a new investigation into whether Microsoft has used illegal methods to dominate the low-end file and print server market. The commission suggests these methods might have included withholding key inter-operability information from rivals which they'd need to get their products to talk with Microsoft's software.

Competition Commissioner Mario Monti said in a statement. "Server networks lie at the heart of the future of the Web and every effort must be made to prevent their monopolisation through illegal practices."

On expanding the Media Player investigation, the Commission said: "This statement of objections supplements one sent to the company a year ago and adds a new dimension to the Commission's concerns that Microsoft's actions may harm innovation and restrict choice for consumers."

As for the two new issues raised by the EC Jean Philippe Courtois, Grand Fromage of Microsoft EMEA, has this to say. "We are confident that once it has completed its investigation, the European Commission will be assured that we run our business in full compliance with EU law." The new issues are limited in scope, MS believes.

In a statement released today, Microsoft welcomed the European Commission's merger of two previously pending cases involving the company. It also said it had received confirmation from the EC that there were no plans to block the launch of Windows XP in Europe. ®

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