Microsoft hits back at EU

Microsoft hits back at EU

Vista OK, but major back peddling on work group servers

Microsoft came out fighting today over threats by European Union regulators that Windows Vista would be banned from shops if it was uncompetitive.

"Consumers are free to use a wide range of competitor products, and Windows Vista is designed to respect the choices that consumers make," said a Microsoft statement.

"We have a responsibility to make our products better and more secure for our customers in a manner that respects all laws and competition standards."

Microsoft said that it had taken great care to ensure that Vista would not suffer the same regulatory problems faced by Windows XP.

"Keeping the industry and regulators informed of our product development plans has been, and will remain, a priority. We have worked hard to include partners and competitors in our planning so they can build products and services that work with Windows Vista," Microsoft said.

The statement came as the EU committee was meeting to decide whether Microsoft had complied with the 2004 antitrust ruling for Windows XP.

The committee claimed that Microsoft has flouted sanctions that should have levelled the playing field for companies that make work group servers. It is currently holding private meetings to decide what action to take against the firm.

In a bid to avoid fines of up to €2m a day Microsoft has announced new voluntary measures to help it comply with the EU regulator.

"In addition to unlimited technical support, Microsoft is further augmenting the programme by offering on-site assistance to licensees," a company statement said.

Shares in Apple rose on the news of Microsoft's continuing antitrust problems with the EU. Apple shares had risen slightly to $62.75 on the Nasdaq on Thursday.