Microsoft is preparing to alter its Internet Explorer browser, following a patent verdict that went against the company, Microsoft said Friday. The changes could affect a large number of existing Web pages, the company said.

Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler said: "In response to the ruling, we are evaluating our options and may take precautionary steps in terms of any changes we may need to make to Internet Explorer". He declined to detail what sort of changes Microsoft has in mind.

This news follows Microsoft’s loss in a patent case taken against the company by Eolas Technologies and the University of California. A Chicago jury on August 11 ordered Microsoft to pay $520.6 million in damages to Eolas Technologies Inc. and the University of California after finding that Microsoft improperly included technology in Internet Explorer that allows interactive content to be embedded in a Web site.

Microsoft does not expect changes in its browser to have a significant or widespread impact, Desler said. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), however, believes that changes in Microsoft's browser could affect a large number of Web sites, W3C Chief Operating Officer Steven Bratt said in a notice on the W3C site. IE is by far the world's most used Web browser.

Microsoft is involving the technology industry and relevant standards bodies, such as the W3C, in its investigation into the changes it may have to make to IE. "We want to inform them about our thinking on this matter and get their feedback and input," Desler said.

The W3C held a meeting earlier this month to discuss the ramifications of the case. Attendees agreed that a response to the case should minimize the effects of changes to Web software, Web sites and the user experience. However, the standards body warns that changes to Internet Explorer may affect a "large number" of existing Web sites.

According to the W3C, Microsoft will make changes to Internet Explorer "very soon". but Desler warned that it would be premature to go into details regarding what Microsoft may or may not do.

Microsoft will appeal against the verdict