Oral arguments in Microsoft's first court date with the European Union (EU) will begin September 30, according to Bo Vesterdorf, president of the European Court of First Instance. The arguments, which will last 2 days, will concentrate on Microsoft's request to suspend its penalties while the company prepares an appeal of the EU's antitrust decision.
  
In March, the EU found Microsoft guilty of abusing its Windows monopoly by harming competitors in the media-player and server markets. The EU ordered the company to ship a version of Windows that didn't include Windows Media Player (WMP) and to supply its server competitors with more interoperability-based technical information. The EU also fined Microsoft about $612 million. 
  
The EU originally required that Microsoft meet the decision's requirements by late June but the European Court of First Instance granted the company a short reprieve so that Microsoft could present its arguments for delaying the penalties until the appeal is finalized. Vesterdorf will decide how the case proceeds. "The remedies as currently proposed by the commission would hurt consumers, the industry, and Microsoft," a Microsoft spokesperson said yesterday, noting that the company has a "strong case." A short look at Vesterdorf's record might indicate otherwise, however. According to court records, he has granted relief in only 8 of 50 cases in the past 3 years.
  
Regardless of the outcome of these arguments, Microsoft will still have to face Vesterdorf and several other European judges, who will decide the substance of Microsoft's appeal. That appeal could take as long as 5 years, according to legal experts.