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Microsoft absorbed an additional hit on the same day it was fined a record $613 million by European regulators for alleged abuse of antitrust laws on the Continent. As attention was focused on the European Union matter Wednesday, the world's largest maker of personal computers announced it will switch from installing Microsoft's Windows operating system in its units to rival Linux. Hewlett-Packard's decision could alter the balance of power in the desktop operating system market, analysts said. Other than in corporate applications, Linux previously had had little success penetrating the Windows-dominated desktop market.

Tyson Foods Inc. won a federal court ruling that the $1.28 billion penalty a jury recommended it pay in a pricing dispute with cattle ranchers would be excessive. In Montgomery, Ala., Judge Lyle Strom upheld an earlier decision to base damages against the world's largest beef packer only on the number of ranchers affected by its strategy to drive down prices. His decision excludes those who sold cattle to Tyson on the cash market or through contracts. At issue: a deal with selected ranchers who provided Tyson's Fresh Meats division with an assured supply of cattle on advantageous terms when prices were high so the company could enter or leave the cash market at will. Strom's ruling leaves open the size of the penalty Tyson ultimately will pay, which could take several months to determine. The judge has yet to rule on Tyson's motion to overturn the verdict in the case.

Royal Dutch/Shell signed a deal potentially worth $1 billion to develop natural gas resources in Libya, now that the latter's international isolation is ending. A statement issued in London said the company also will pursue negotiations on other energy projects in the North African nation - long considered a sponsor of terrorism - throughout the year.

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