Yesterday, the European Commission (EC) announced that it would give Microsoft the extra time the company requested to answer charges that it has abused its monopoly power in OSs to gain a foothold in the server space. In early August, the EC, which has antitrust oversight in the European Union (EU) similar to that of the FCC and Department of Justice (DOJ) in the United States, gave the software giant a list of objections, for which the EC wanted a reply by October. But that deadline has been extended at Microsoft's request. "The deadline for Microsoft to respond is now mid-November," said EC spokesperson Amelia Torres. "\[Microsoft\] asked for an extension and we granted it."

Coming as it does on the heels of similar antitrust problems in the United States, the EC case is a particular embarrassment for Microsoft, which has maintained its innocence in both cases. But the EC focuses on the server market, rather than client/desktop market. According to the complaint, Microsoft designed Windows 2000 in such a way to extend its OS dominance into servers and electronic commerce, shutting out competition by bundling free middleware with the OS. According to EU law, Microsoft can request a hearing. If the hearing doesn't vindicate the company, the EC can fine Microsoft up to 10 percent of its worldwide revenues. The EC has never imposed such a fine, however