The proposed settlement between Microsoft and the US Department of Justice for now does not change the European Commission's investigation into the practices of the software maker, the EC confirmed yesterday.

Elements of the proposed settlement, announced on Friday in the US, could affect the European probe of Microsoft, but it is much too early to tell according to EC spokeswoman Amelia Torres.

"There might be certain features in the US settlement which might or might not have an impact on the Commission's own investigation involving Microsoft," she said. The EC, the European Union's executive body, is going ahead with its antitrust investigation.

"The investigation is ongoing and it's at a preliminary stage," Torres confirmed.

Microsoft realises a settlement in the US lawsuit won't end its case in Europe, but the company said it hopes to settle with the Commission as well. After several states refused to endorse the US government's decision, even Microsoft's American position looks less secure.

"We suspect that the Commission will take a look at this settlement. We're engaged in a process with the European Commission and as we have wanted to settle this matter (in the US), so would we like to appropriately settle the matter with the European Commission," said Microsoft president and chief executive Steve Ballmer at a news conference on Friday.

The EC is investigating whether Microsoft violated European rules to extend its position in the market for low-end server operating systems by using its dominant position in PC operating systems, and also is examining Microsoft's software bundling tactics, with Windows Media Player a particular focus.