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Ballmer Talks to European Commission

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer cancelled a planned keynote this week at the Microsoft Management Summit to go to Europe and negotiate with the European Commission as the antitrust case there reaches a critical stage.

"Steve is in Europe today working and talking to the European Commission so he's unfortunately not able to come here," said Bob Muglia, senior vice president at Microsoft, told an MMS audience in Las Vegas.

Ballmer, who had been scheduled to give the MMS keynote on Wednesday, backed out of the appearance on Tuesday in order to travel to Brussels.

Earlier this week, the European Union's antitrust chief won approval from representatives of the 15 European Union governments for a ruling against Microsoft. Sources familiar with the ruling have told media outlets that the ruling finds Microsoft abused its Windows monopoly to gain share for its own digital media player and low-end server software.

The sources also say the European Commission is demanding concessions from Microsoft that include delivering a version of Windows that does not include Windows Media Player and the giving of Windows code to server competitors.

The draft ruling is set to be tentatively adopted next week unless Ballmer can reach some kind of settlement with European officials first.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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