Microsoft has tried to dazzle EC anti-trust regulators with new research that illustrates the huge impact Windows Vista will have on Europe's IT industry and the broader economy.

The sales job is just the latest salvo in a battle between the software giant and the European Commission which has heated up in the past week.

Most recently, Microsoft claimed that the launch of Vista might be delayed in Europe because of the regulators' concerns about its impact on competition. That approach - pushed through the press - was met with a firm response from the EC which pointed out that Microsoft had delayed replying to concerns raised by the EC.

Now, Microsoft used research conducted by IDC - and sponsored by Microsoft - to illustrate how much Vista is set to benefit Europe in terms of revenues and jobs next year.

Within a year of going on sale, IDC said, Windows Vista will be installed on more than 30 million computers in the six EU countries included in the study: Germany, France, the U.K., Spain, Poland and Denmark. More than 100 million computers worldwide will run Vista within a year of its launch. The predictions come from a research paper titled "The economic impact of Microsoft Windows Vista."

Vista-related employment will account for more than 20 percent of all IT jobs within a year of its arrival, IDC predicted. That translates into around one million IT professionals in the six countries, including 100,000 new jobs by the end of 2007. Of course all this is assuming that Vista is launched on time at the beginning of next year.

The EC is concerned that new features planned for Vista, like its security software, will fall foul of the same anti-trust rules the company was found guilty of breaching two and a half years ago with its bundling of Windows Media Player. Vista will not allow third parties to change code in the OS' kernel - something that Symantec, among others, has complained about.

The fear is that Microsoft will effectively do what it has done to Netscape Navigator in the browser market and numerous music and video players, but this time with the booming security market by ruining other companies' ability to compete by incorporating a Microsoft version of the software with Windows - used on 90 percent of all PCs.

Jean-Philippe Courtois, president of Microsoft International, said the impact of Vista will be much greater than the direct benefits to Microsoft. "The economic opportunity Windows Vista creates for small and large companies across the region is clearly much more significant," he said at a press conference to unveil the study.

But some commentators see it as a way to pressure the Commission to back off. Last week, four members of the European Parliament wrote to competition commissioner Neelie Kroes warning her not to scupper the launch of Vista.

"It looks like operation shock and awe," said one person following Microsoft's anti-trust travails in Europe. Microsoft is "losing the legal argument, so it's turning to political means to maintain its abusive monopoly," said the person, who is close to some of Microsoft's nearest competitors.