Microsoft is seeking a hearing from EU antitrust regulators in its defence against accusations of unfairly crushing rivals in the web browser market, the European Commission said Wednesday.
The commission, Europe's top competition watchdog, opened a new front in its epic antitrust battle with Microsoft in January, hitting the company with fresh charges of unfairly squashing competition.
A commission spokesman said that Microsoft had formally responded to the charges late Tuesday and had requested the hearing, which companies are allowed to do as part of their defence under EU antitrust rules.
If Microsoft fails to beat back the charges, the commission could slap the company with huge new fines and order it to change its ways.
The commission accuses Microsoft of crushing rivals by bundling its Internet Explorer web browser into its ubiquitous Windows personal computer operating system, giving the programme a huge advantage over competitors' browsers.
The European Commission and Microsoft have long clashed over the US company's practice of bundling other software such as media players into Windows.
In September 2007, Microsoft lost an appeal before Europe's second-highest court against a fine of nearly 500 million euros (661 million dollars) that EU regulators slapped on the company in 2004 for abusing its dominant power, partly in the media players market.
In February 2008, the commission hit Microsoft with a further fine of 899 million euros for defying its 2004 ruling.
(c) 2009 AFP
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