A European Commission official due to take charge next month of the antitrust case against Microsoft has been offered a job by a Brussels-based consultancy that lists the software vendor among its clients, the Commission and Microsoft said Thursday.Henri Piffaut, deputy head of the unit handling the long-running antitrust case, has asked for leave from his civil servant position in the Commission on personal grounds, said the Commission\u2019s competition spokesman Jonathan Todd."The situation is fluid. The Commission hasn\u2019t responded to the request yet and for the time being he remains an employee here," he said. Piffaut is due to take over the top job in the unit next month from Cecilio Madero Villarejo, who has led it for the past seven years. He joined the unit as deputy head earlier this year.Despite the hiccup over replacing Villarejo, the antitrust case against Microsoft is unlikely to be affected by Piffaut\u2019s request to leave, Todd said. "I can\u2019t see this causing any delays," he said.If Piffaut is denied leave, he would have to give up his career at the Commission. He could also be prevented from working on cases he was linked to while serving as an antitrust official at the Commission, the European Union\u2019s executive body.Piffaut has been asked to join LECG, an international firm of consultants, to head up a team of economists working on merger cases in the Brussels office. LECG wasn\u2019t immediately available to comment.Microsoft\u2019s spokesman in Brussels, Tom Brookes, said he had heard about Piffaut\u2019s possible job change but declined to comment further.Four years ago Microsoft hired Detlef Eckert, a senior Commission official in the information society department, whose job included overseeing the antitrust investigation being conducted by his colleagues in the competition department. Eckert was not bound by the tough conflict of interest rules that apply to antitrust officials.-Paul Meller, IDG News Service (Brussels Bureau)This article is posted on our Microsoft Informer page.\u00a0 For more news on the Redmond, Wash.-based powerhouse, keep checking in.Check out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.