Microsoft has prepared its official appeal to the European Commission and will lodge it next week, the company has confirmed.

Microsoft was found guilty by the EC of abusing its monopoly and was fined a record €497.2 million on 24 March this year. Microsoft has acted "as a brake on innovation" and harmed both the market and consumers by producing "less choice and higher prices", the EC decided.

It was told to produce a new version of Windows without its media player tied in, as well as open up part of its code so other products could interoperate with it better.

Needless to say, Microsoft didn't like this, and announced the same day that it would appeal.

Just over two months later and the company has said it intends to file its appeal brief with the European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg next week. Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler said: "We look forward to filing our appeal and believe we have a very strong case to present to the court," he said.

Microsoft is only filing its appeal. A request to stay the measures imposed by the Commission will be made separate from the appeal and will be filed with the Court of First Instance later this month, Desler said.

An appeal to the European Court of First Instance will take at least three years to conclude. In the meantime, the Court may turn down Microsoft's upcoming request to suspend the remedies until after the appeal, forcing the company to change the way it does business in Europe almost immediately.

Microsoft has expressed disappointment with the EU ruling. The company tried to settle the matter at the eleventh hour, but was unsuccessful. EU Competition Commissioner Mario Monti has said the ruling is about protecting customer choice and innovation. Microsoft has said the ruling stifles innovation.

Does Microsoft have a leg to stand on? Will Mario Monti prevail? Or will Microsoft pull off another feat of avoidance as it did in the US anti-trust trials? Have your say in our forum.