As expected, the European Commission today fined Microsoft €497 million (US$613 million) and ordered the company to offer a version of its Windows operating system without the Windows Media Player software within 90 days, at the close of a five-year investigation into the company's business practices in Europe, it announced Wednesday.

The Commission concluded that Microsoft broke European Union (EU) competition law by leveraging its near monopoly in the PC operating system market to gain advantage in the markets for work group server operating systems and media players.

In addition to the fine, the Commission ordered Microsoft to change its illegal conduct. The company must disclose within 120 days details of the software interfaces used by its products to communicate with Windows and to sell a version of its operating system without Windows Media Player.

The decision will make it possible for fair competition to develop in the markets concerned and sets clear principles for the future conduct of companies with dominant market positions, the Commission said in a statement.