Microsoft claims it will give the European Commission reams of information related to the antitrust inquiry in Europe.

John Frank, Microsoft’s director of law and corporate affairs, said: "They will get boxes and boxes of information. They asked the questions and we will send the answers."

The preliminary inquiry, launched by the Commission in early February, will investigate allegations that Windows 2000 is designed so Microsoft can leverage its dominant position in PC operating systems to other markets, such as servers and e-commerce.

Faced with a several complaints, notably from Sun Microsystems, the Commission asked Microsoft a series of questions for which the company is now preparing the answers. The deadline for a response is early March, but the Commission and Frank confirm the response has not been sent.

After considering the answers, the Commission will decide whether the allegations are justified. It will then choose whether to launch a formal investigation to determine whether Microsoft has abused its position.

"The Commission asked very broad questions, and this (inquiry) is at a very early stage," Frank said.

In response to questions, Frank explained that one of the ironies of the inquiry is that Microsoft "co-operates extensively with Sun to build technology bridges with us" so that Sun products can easily operate with Microsoft software.

"Sun, however, has not taken advantage of all the possibilities we have offered," said Frank. This suggests that its complaints were not based on a real business issue, but were instead a competitive tactic, according to Frank.