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Microsoft Rivals Push European Front

The group asks regulators to stop antitrust practices.
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and other technology companies that compete with


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have filed a complaint with the European Commission, claiming that the software giant's business practices are unfair.

Calling themselves The European Committee for Interoperable Systems, which also includes

Sun Microsystems

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, RealNetworks

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and others, the group is asking the EU regulators to stop practices that reinforce Microsoft's existing monopoly and could lead to unfair dominance of new markets in the future.

We are at a crossroads," the group said in a statement. "Will one dominant player be permitted to control those conditions, or will the rules that guarantee competition on the merits prevail, to the benefit of all?"

Microsoft described the group as a front for IBM and others who try to gain business advantage via litigation and regulatory action.

"We have come to expect that as we introduce new products that benefit consumers, particularly with the kind of breakthrough technologies in Office 12 and Windows Vista, a few competitors will complain," Microsoft said in a press release.

Two years ago, the EU ordered Microsoft to offer a version of Windows without its Media Player software, to share communications code with rivals and pay a record $613 million fine. Microsoft's appeal of the ruling will be heard next month.