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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 November, 2004, 12:56 GMT
Urgent meeting in Microsoft case
Microsoft software on sale
Microsoft will have to change its business practices if its appeal fails
A new round has opened in the European Commission anti-trust battle against Microsoft as the judge hearing its appeal called for a closed meeting.

The meeting - to be held on Thursday - follows US-based Novell and the Computer and Communications Industry Association dropping out of the case.

Both have recently received out-of-court settlements from Microsoft.

Novell got $536m (286m), while the Financial Times reported that the CCIA received $19.75m.

Both Novell - which is still taking legal action against Microsoft over a separate case - and the CCIA had supported the European Commission (EC) in its anti-trust case against US software giant Microsoft.

This resulted in the EC finding against Microsoft in a major anti-trust case and fining it $646m in March, demanding big changes in Microsoft practices.

To date, Microsoft has settled with four out of its five major opponents in the appeal case, having previously spent $2.4bn settling claims with TimeWarner and Sun Microsystems.

Fighting on

RealNetworks, which makes a software product that competes with Microsoft's Media Player for playing sound and video on a PC, is to carry on fighting the case.

Judge Bo Vesterdorf of the Court of First Instance in Luxembourg said on Wednesday he will convene a behind-closed-doors meeting on Thursday to discuss "procedural matters".

Both the parties still involved in the case and those who have dropped out will be included in the meeting.

His decision comes two weeks after the withdrawal of Novell and the CCIA.

The Financial Times gave the size of the settlement with the CCIA on its website on Tuesday night.

The Associated Press said the CCIA declined to comment on the size of the payment, as did its president, Ed Black.

A Microsoft spokesman said the money was for the CCIA as a whole, and was "a reimbursement for certain legal and related expenditures that it had incurred".

"It was of course up to the CCIA board to decide how to use the money it received from the company," he said.

Why the closed meeting has been called

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