European Commissioner for Competition Mario Monti said yesterday that the European Union (EU) can still reach a compromise with Microsoft, which the EU is investigating for antitrust abuses. Although the EU rejected an earlier settlement offer from Microsoft, Monti says that he hasn't closed the door to such an outcome. And Microsoft representatives have confirmed that the company is still working to pursue a settlement.
   "Until the moment when the decision is taken, nothing is impossible," Monti said yesterday during a meeting with the European Parliament. Monti noted that he has set a final date for his commission's ruling on the Microsoft case but wouldn't publicly disclose that date. The EU has been investigating Microsoft for more than 5 years and has accused the software giant of abusing its desktop OS monopoly in an attempt to enter new markets for digital media and server OSs. Microsoft faced similar charges in the United States but escaped serious punishment with a US settlement critics have derided as ineffective. Meanwhile, class-action groups, states, and other companies are suing Microsoft over antitrust-related concerns in multiple US court cases.
   If Microsoft can't strike a settlement deal with the EU, the company could face massive fines and strict remedies. One remedy the EU is said to be seeking involves forcing Microsoft to remove Windows Media Player (WMP) from Windows or shipping Windows with competing media players from Apple Computer and RealNetworks.