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Microsoft fights EU ruling

LUXEMBOURG -- The European Commission forced the world's largest software maker to offer a product no one wanted and virtually no one bought, Microsoft Corp. told the EU's second highest court yesterday as it began trying to overturn a landmark antitrust ruling against it.

The commission ordered Microsoft to offer customers a version of Windows system without the Media Player -- intended to give people a free choice of media software.

But no computer maker has shipped a PC with the media player-free version, said Microsoft's attorney, Jean-Francois Bellis. Some 90 percent of Windows sales come from its being pre-installed on computers when they are sold.

Thomas Vinje, a lawyer for the European Committee for Interoperable Systems -- a group representing some of Microsoft's rivals that is backing the Commission -- said the lack of sales was a clear sign that Microsoft had held the market in check.

''It's a missile that comes back squarely into the heart of Microsoft," he said.

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