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Microsoft likely to receive stay of European ruling

Microsoft is expected to receive a temporary stay of European regulators’ order that the company sell a version of its Windows operating system without Media Player software included, lawyers based in Brussels said last week.

Such a request for a temporary injunction is routinely honored in European antitrust cases, the lawyers noted, and it would give Microsoft several months before it would have to comply with the European antitrust order. But such an approval by the European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg, Germany, would be no indication of how the court would rule later this year on the question of a permanent suspension of regulators’ remedies, the lawyers said.

Antoine Winkler, a partner in the law firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, which represents RealNetworks, a Microsoft rival, called the temporary injunction meaningless with regard to the substance of the actual appeal.

The commission’s order in March to sell a version of Windows with Microsoft’s own music and video player stripped out is scheduled to take effect later this month. Microsoft’s appeal is expected to run to close to 100 pages, the maximum length permitted by the Court of First Instance. The European Commission’s ruling, by contrast, was more than three times that length.

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