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April 6, 2005

Industry lining up against Microsoft on antitrust

Microsoft has found itself facing an industry coalition supporting regulators over its breach of European anti-trust law.

By CBR Staff Writer

IBM, Nokia, Oracle, RealNetworks and Red Hat have formed a group to provide assistance to the European Commission in its fight against Microsoft.

The EC last year ruled Microsoft had abused its market position in the low-end server market and by bundling Media Player with Windows XP, actions the EC said had harmed the competition.

Microsoft is appealing the EC’s ruling, but Microsoft’s five competitors have formed the European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS), which will provide technical and legal assistance to the EC.

The ECIS’s line-up is no surprise. Oracle was once implicated in Microsoft’s antitrust case against the US government. Oracle paid private investigators to search Microsoft’s trash for incriminating antitrust documents in an affair that become known alternatively as trashgate and Larrygate the latter after Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison.

During the last year, the EC has lost the support from a number of key members of the IT community tat were opposed to Microsoft politically and from a technical standpoint. Long-time Microsoft critic Sun Microsystems withdrew its support of the EC’s action following its own multi-billion legal settlement while Novell withdrew its support following a separate $536m settlement with Microsoft.

Nokia, meanwhile, quit the Computer and Commutations Industry Association (CCIA) after group president Ed Black reportedly pocketed more than half of $20m payment made as part of the CCIA’s own antitrust settlement with Microsoft. As part of that deal, the CCIA also dropped its support for the EC’s action.

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