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Airbus drops out of Microsoft appeal

Aircraft builder withdraws its request to intervene in Microsoft's antitrust appeal; Boeing also forgoes intervention.

Airbus has withdrawn its request to intervene in Microsoft's antitrust appeal--a blow to the software giant's efforts to show that the European Commission's ruling will have effects far beyond the IT industry.

Earlier this month, the France-based aircraft builder confirmed that it had filed a brief in the Microsoft appeal. The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, ruled in March that Microsoft violated antitrust laws, sought a historic fine and ordered the software giant to initiate remedies.

Microsoft challenged the Commission's decision in a filing with the EU's Court of First Instance. The software maker also approached companies about the potential that the ruling will have a wide-ranging effect on numerous industries. Airbus, along with a handful of other companies, then filed briefs.

But the situation has since changed.

"We understand that Airbus notified the Court of First Instance that they will withdraw their intervention," a Microsoft representative in Europe said. "We don't have any further comments, other than we remain convinced the Commission's decision has implications across all industries."

Airbus had previously said that it filed a brief with the Court of First Instance because it sought clarification in the case, rather than as a means to show support for Microsoft.

Airbus declined to comment on the reasons why it withdrew its request.

Boeing, another Fortune 500 company, confirmed last week that Microsoft had approached it about intervening in the antitrust case.

But the aircraft maker has decided against making such a move, a company spokesman said Friday.

"We decided not to intervene because there was not a compelling reason for us to do so," said Tim Neale, a Boeing spokesman. "It's not a reflection on the importance of the issues, but it's just that we don't believe it's necessary for us to intervene."

Although the appeal trial before the Court of First Instance will not likely happen for another couple years, the case has a hearing scheduled for Thursday to address the two remedies the Commission is seeking: the sharing of technical information with rivals and offering a version of Windows with a media player. The hearing is expected to last two days and will be closely watched by the IT industry.