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Tech Companies Rally to EU Aid in Microsoft Case

Five major technology companies have joined together to support the European Union (EU) in its antitrust case against software giant Microsoft. The companies--IBM, Nokia, Oracle, RealNetworks, and Red Hat--are all Microsoft competitors whose products will be affected by the outcome of the EU case.

"\[We\] are very concerned about Microsoft's anticompetitive conduct," a representative of the companies said Tuesday. "Microsoft has been saying that the \[EU antitrust arm, the European\] Commission stands alone and that it didn't have industry support. This \[cabal\] demonstrates that that is untrue, that there is growing support for the Commission."

The five companies have asked the EU Court of First Instance to allow them to intervene in Microsoft's antitrust appeal through a lobbying organization called the European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS). Previously, RealNetworks had been given permission to intervene because its RealPlayer software is directly affected by Microsoft's Windows Media Player, which is at the center of the EU case. The Court of First Instance has yet to rule on the ECIS request, though the companies made it after the deadline for such a request had passed.

IBM makes enterprise server systems that compete with Microsoft's Windows Server System product line. Nokia, a dominant player in the cell phone industry, competes with Microsoft Windows Mobile-based products. Oracle is the number one database maker, but faces stiff competition from a steadily improving Microsoft SQL Server. RealNetworks, as noted previously, competes with Microsoft Windows Media Player. And Red Hat, which makes Linux-based operating system and server products, competes with various Windows and Microsoft enterprise products.

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