Microsoft has responded in a sulky fashion to the EC's decision earlier today to fine it a record 497 million euros and insist on a media-player-free Windows within 90 days.

The software giant said in a statement and press calls that during last-minute discussions with competition commissioner Mario Monti, it had offered to bundle another three media players with Windows in order to reach agreement and avoid the negative decision.

This, it claims, "would have provided more choices for European consumers and more opportunity for software companies than the official decision announced today." Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is upset (and perhaps just a little disappointed) with Mr Monti, whining: "We worked hard to reach an agreement that would address the European Commission's concerns and still allow us to innovate and improve our products for consumers. We respect the Commission's authority, but we believe that our settlement offer from last week would have offered far more choices and benefits to consumers."

However, Microsoft doesn't respect the EC enough not to appeal against the decision, which its lawyer Brad Smith said the company will do, pushing the issue to the Court of First Instance in Luxembourg.

The company is still hoping a deal can be struck though. "We have acted responsibly while seeking to build the best products we can to meet the needs of our customers," Smith said. "We believe that the Commission's decision would actually reduce consumer choice and hurt European software developers. We want to resolve these issues as quickly as possible, and we look forward to the possibility of continuing these discussions as this case moves forward."

Mario Monti is not so easily persuaded at the moment, telling reporters that he is confident the ruling against Microsoft will stand up to any appeal.

Ballmer was too busy brooding to be defiant. "Throughout this process we have cooperated fully with the European Commission and demonstrated due respect for the process and its concerns," he grumbled. "As this case moves forward, you can rest assured we will respect and comply fully with European law, we will continue to invest in new technology breakthroughs, and we will continue to work to bring our innovations to our partners and customers."

And in case you were in any doubt that Microsoft has nothing but good in mind, Ballmer continued: "While we think today's action is unfortunate, we will continue to cooperate and collaborate with European governments and the European industry to address shared concerns, such as interoperability, security, privacy, spam and keeping our children safe online." Bless.