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IBM, Nokia and Oracle are among a group of big IT companies which has won the right to help the European Commission case against Microsoft.

The Court of First Instance has given permission for the European Committee for Interoperable Systems (Ecis) to provide expert advice to the Commission. Ecis is made up of IBM, Nokia, Oracle and Red Hat.

The group asked to give evidence back in April but the court only released its decision late last week.

Microsoft settled with some industry critics, like Sun last summer, and was pushing the line that the industry could sort out its own problems. So confirmation that the likes of IBM and Nokia support the case is bad news for the vendor.

In March last year the Commission fined Microsoft €497m and ordered it to open up access to its products. The Commission is expected to decide in the next few weeks whether the software giant has done enough to comply with its demands. If it decides Microsoft has not done enough it can fine the company up to five per cent of daily turnover - $5m a day.

The Commission asked Microsoft to open up access to its server APIs and to offer a version of Windows without its Media Player. The software giant should also have appointed an independent ombudsman to oversee its compliance.

Ecis will offer legal and technical advice to the Competition Commission.

A decision on whether or not Microsoft has complied with the court’s demands or should be fined is expected within the next few weeks.®

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