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Microsoft is touting the contribution of Windows Vista to EC economics in its latest attempt to persuade regulators to go easy on the operating system.

A report by tech analyst firm IDC, sponsored by Microsoft, estimates that Windows Vista will drive $40bn in economic activity and create 100,000 new jobs in six European countries next year when it supposedly ships. Vista will be installed on 30 million PCs in Denmark, France, Germany, Poland, Spain and the UK in its first year.

According to IDC, Windows Vista will create "cascading economic benefits" from increased employment and taxes, creating a stronger economic base.

Last week Microsoft let it be known that Windows Vista could ship later than planned in European Union countries if regulators insist on more changes to the much-delayed operating system.

Microsoft thinks it has satisfied the Commission's concerns in publishing API information and in planning a version of Windows Vista minus Media Player. The Commission disagrees. In July, it fined Microsoft €280.5m ($195m) for breaching an original antitrust ruling - that cost Microsoft a record €497 ($613m) - by failure to supply adequate technical information. In March, the Commission expressed concerns about internet search and PDF-like features in Windows Vista and their compatibility with software from other companies.

The warnings and IDC's report comes after four MEPs - three from the UK and one from Poland - wrote to EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes complaining that delays to Windows Vista could harm European competitiveness.

For one MEP, Chris Heaton-Harris (Conservative), this was the latest sign of his growing interest in Microsoft's long-running case with the EC. Heaton-Harris and fellow MEP Roger Helmer met Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer last month at the company's campus in Seattle, Washington.

According to Heaton-Harris's website, The Commission "has a problem with Microsoft adding additional features, such as Windows Media Player, to its Windows product, since this supposedly reduces opportunities for third-party software suppliers to sell these features separately". ®

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