The European Commission is unlikely to use the US court and Microsoft's anti-trust settlement as a reference point for its own anti-trust examination of the software behemoth.

US Judge Kollar-Kotelly announced her ruling last Friday. The terms of the settlement have attracted wide-spread criticism, with former US solicitor general and appellate judge Kenneth Starr calling it "a green light to Microsoft to continue its monopoly practices". Microsoft has said it is "pleased" with the terms agreed.

"Nothing in Kollar-Kotelly's ruling relieves the European Commission of the need to pursue additional remedies," said US-based trade group, the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA).

Code access The CCIA is primarily seeking non-discrimination in terms of access to Windows interfaces – the coding that allows the PC operating system to work with other devices such as computer servers.

The trade group wants Microsoft to stop tying separate products to its Windows operating systems. The European Commission has accused the company of tying, or bundling, its Media Player software in with its Windows products, to the detriment of rival audio and video players such as RealNetwork's RealOne Players.

The CCIA said Judge Kollar-Kotelly's decision in no way impairs the European Commission's anti-tying investigation. "The judge explicitly singled out tying issues for review by other legal proceedings," it said.

A top commission competition official recently said he expects his office to be able to announce a preliminary ruling in the EU case by the end of this year, and a final conclusion early in 2003.

In the European Union, Microsoft is accused of having violated antitrust rules by using illegal practices to gain a dominant position in the market for low-end server operating systems through its influence on the market for personal computer operating systems.