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Microsoft meets EC judge

Informal meeting to suspend penalties

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Microsoft is meeting Bo Vesterdorf , the judge of the Court of First Instance, today in an effort to get penalties against the software giant suspended until the full appeal is heard.

The Competition Commission temporarily suspended penalties at the end of June. Following the EC ruling Microsoft was supposed to pay a fine of €497m and offer a version of Windows without its Media Player. Judge Vesterdorf called the meeting to discuss scheduling a hearing for Microsoft's application, according to sources quoted by Reuters.

Microsoft wants all punishments suspended until the full appeal is heard - a process which could take up to three years. The EC says that the penalties, which it describes as "reasonable, balanced and necessary" would be irrelevant by then.

The meeting will also be attended by other interested parties.

The Free Software _Foundation_ Europe is backing the EC's action and attending today's hearing. It has hired Italian lawyer Carlo Piana to represent the interests of free software.

George Greve, president of FSFE, said: "We call on all businesses to support us in this struggle. Those who ignore that call today have to expect to have only one choice to buy storage and directory services from tomorrow."

UPDATED: Judge Vesterdorf ordered Microsoft back to court on 30 September to 1 October for an oral hearing on whether penalties against the firm should be dropped. Until then the EC has voluntarily suspended penalties. A Microsoft spokesman told Reuters the firm was looking forward to making its case in court.®

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