Microsoft has now replied in full to the European Commission's questions regarding charges that new elements in Windows 2000 are designed to help the company expand its dominant position, a Commission spokeswoman said today.

The Commission will look at the information to decide whether it should open a formal case against the company, said Amelia Torres, a Commission spokeswoman.

Torres added: "It is virtually impossible to say when the Commission will take that decision."

The Commission began its enquiry in early February, and gave the company until March 15 to reply. At that time, Microsoft provided an initial response accompanied with a request for additional time to provide in-depth technical answers. The delay was granted.

The Commission is concerned that Microsoft has bundled its operating system together with other software, so that only Microsoft products are fully interoperable with each other. Other concerns include the issue of its growing dominance in the server OS market, and the potential that it will leverage this dominance to control e-commerce.

In response, Microsoft said it focuses on giving users interoperability with software from other vendors, and that it believes that the Commission will ultimately conclude that its work conforms fully with EU competition law.

The Commission has now given the company until May 2 to answer questions concerning another possible violation of European Union rules. The second case involves Micro Leader Business, a French software wholesaler, that alleges Microsoft violated antitrust rules when it banned it from reselling copyrighted Microsoft software, imported from Canada, in France.

Finally, the Commission is pursuing its in-depth investigation of Microsoft's planned acquisition of Telewest, the UK cable company. This case was prompted by concerns that Microsoft could use its dominant position in operating systems as leverage to gain market share in the television desktop-box sector, Michael Tscherny, an EC spokesman, explained earlier this month. The risk is taken seriously due to indications that many Europeans will eventually access the Internet over TV cable, and not by computer.