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Microsoft drops all legal challenges against EU antitrust order

BRUSSELS, Belgium — Microsoft Corp. said Wednesday it has withdrawn the two remaining legal challenges to an EU antitrust order that it now says it will obey.

The world's largest software maker yielded to European Union regulators on Monday, when it promised to obey key parts of a 2004 monopoly abuse ruling upheld by an appeals court last month.

Microsoft's legal battle with the European Commission has lasted years and cost it hundreds of millions of dollars in fines.

The software giant said it told the EU's appeals court on Wednesday that it was withdrawing an appeal against the 280.5 million euros ($357 million) fine that regulators imposed in July 2006 for not complying with an earlier demand that it share technical information with rivals.

That order aimed to help IBM, Sun, Novell and Oracle make software for server computers that would work smoothly with Microsoft's Windows desktop operating system — found on 95 percent of all personal computers.

Microsoft said it paid the fine in October 2006.

It also dropped a second appeal that asked the EU's Court of First Instance to annul the Commission's order that Microsoft license its intellectual property to open source systems such as Linux.

The company said this was now moot following a deal the Commission announced on Monday that aims to make it easier for open source developers — who circulate software freely without charging or paying usual license fees — to license the information they need to work with Windows.

"We believe its important at this stage to focus all of our energies on complying with our legal obligations and strengthening our constructive relationship with the European Commission," said Microsoft's European general counsel Erich Andersen.

In early trading, Microsoft shares lost a penny to $30.89.