The European Commission (EC) insisted yesterday that one of its top IT officials who will soon begin working for Microsoft, has had nothing to do with the regulator's four-year antitrust investigation of the company.

Detlef Eckert is taking a three-year sabbatical from the EC work in the Trustworthy Computing division of Microsoft EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), said EC spokesman Jonathan Faull.

"He has not worked in a related area" to the Microsoft investigation, Faull said.

Eckert has been the head of a unit within the Information Society directorate of the Commission that deals with analysis, policy planning and the Commission's ‘eEurope’ initiative. Most recently, he has been involved in the roll-out of broadband Internet access across Europe.

Eckert will work from Microsoft's offices in Paris and will work within the .Net group, a Microsoft spokeswoman said Wednesday.

"He will not have anything to do with the European antitrust case," she said.