Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is in Brussels to talk to Europe's competition commissioner Mario Monti and try to strike a deal after the EC, in a draft ruling, found the software giant guilty of abusing its position.

A person close to the talks said Tuesday afternoon: "They [Ballmer and Monti] are talking, the meeting has not finished."

Ballmer's involvement has sparked speculation that Microsoft is about to make its final effort to settle the five-year-long, anti-trust case. In a recent draft ruling, the European Commission found Microsoft guilty of abusing the Windows' dominant position by using the software to muscle out rivals in the connected media and server software markets.

In addition to a fine, the European competition regulator is expected to order Microsoft to offer a version of Windows with its Media Player software stripped out. It is also likely to demand that Microsoft reveal all Windows' secret source code - needed by rivals to make interoperable software.

If no settlement is reached, the Commission is expected to make its negative ruling on March 24. Microsoft and European Union officials declined Tuesday to comment on Ballmer's discussions with Monti.