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Microsoft thanks EU after losing its appeal

General counsel insists still committed to Europe

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Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith has given the company's first response to the rejection of its appeal against the European Commission's anti-trust action.

The Court of First Instance ruled that the commission was right to fine Microsoft €497m and to order it to provide competitors with interoperability information for its workgroup servers.

Brad Smith thanked the court for the work it had done. Smith said: "I do want to simply start by expressing our gratitude to this court for the lengthy consideration that it gave to these issues. These are obviously complicated and important topics, and we appreciate all of the objective and thorough work that went into the decision that was issued today."

He said the company clearly needed to time to read and digest the judgement, which weighs in at 152 pages. "It's clearly very important to us as a company that we comply with our obligations under European law," Smith said. "We'll study this decision carefully, and if there are additional steps that we need to take in order to comply with it, we will take them."

Smith also thanked the Directorate General for Competition for constructive discussions which allowed Microsoft to bring Vista to market in compliance with the original court decision. At one stage Microsoft had threatened to withold the software from Europe.

Smith said: "A lot has changed, but I will say that one thing has remained constant and will continue to do so, and that is Microsoft's commitment to Europe. When this case started, we published Windows in 24 European languages – today that number is 41, and it will continue to grow. When we started this case, we had 3,900 employees in Europe – today we have 13,000, and that number will continue to grow. When this case started, we were spending $3m a year on research and development in Europe – today we are spending almost half a billion, and that number will continue to grow."

Asked what happens next in the legal process, he said: "I think we need to read the decision before we make any decisions. I believe in these kinds of things that although there's a lot of drama, one needs to step back and read first, think second, and decide third, and I think that's the right order, and that is the order in which we're going to take this."

Microsoft has a press conference scheduled for 1.30pm UK time, although it is not clear if this will include a decision on whether or not to appeal the Court of First Instance verdict. Microsoft has limited legal grounds on which to appeal and has two months to decide.

Smith's statement is available as video, via Windows Media Player, here, and the court's decision (pdf) is here. ®

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