March 11, 2009 / 2:39 PM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 1-EU extends Microsoft antitrust deadline to April 21

(Adds Microsoft no comment, background)

BRUSSELS, March 11 (Reuters) - The European Commission has extended a deadline for Microsoft (MSFT.O) to reply to charges that the U.S. software giant stymied rivals by bundling its Internet Explorer Web browser with Windows systems.

The extension to April 21 was given after the company asked for more time, Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd said on Wednesday.

Microsoft declined to comment.

The Commission, which monitors competition in the 27-nation European Union, sent a so-called “statement of objections” to Microsoft on Jan. 15, saying the company had infringed EU rules by abusing its dominant position.

By tying Internet Explorer to Windows, Microsoft shielded its Web browser from head-to-head competition with other browsers, undermining product innovation and reducing customer choice, the Commission had said.

It had given the company eight weeks to reply.

Microsoft and the EU have wrangled over antitrust issues for years. The Commission fined it a record 899 million euros ($1.2 billion) in February last year for discouraging software competition, the largest penalty ever imposed on a company at the time. (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, editing by Dale Hudson)

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