The ECIS organization was granted interested third-party status in the case

Microsoft is dominant in several different software categories including the operating system, web browser and productivity applications segments. While in some areas like browsers, Microsoft is losing ground to the competition, there are still others where it is clearly dominate leading to frequent allegations that it is abusing its top position to stifle competition.

Microsoft’s most recent antitrust claim brought against it in the EU alleges that it is preventing competition in the browser market by bundling its Internet Explorer browser with Windows.

Microsoft announced this week that the deadline for it to respond to the charges against it in the EU had been extended by one week to April 28. A Microsoft spokeswoman said, "Microsoft confirms that the new deadline for the company to respond to the Commission's statement of objections is April 28."

The deadline for Microsoft to respond was changed last month putting it at April 21 and the original charges were leveled against Microsoft on January 15. Computerworld reports that while the deadline has been moved back, the courts have granted "interested third-party" standing to the European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS). Members of ECIS include Adobe, Corel, IBM, Oracle, RealNetworks, and Sun.

ECIS attorney Thomas Vinje said in a statement, "This is an important case to ensure that browsers can compete on the merits and that consumers have a true choice in the software they use to access the Web. Smaller, more innovative browser developers need a level playing field."

This isn't the first antitrust case against Microsoft that the ECIS has been involved with. In January 2008, the group filed charges against Microsoft alleging that the software firm was preventing competitors from accessing needed information to make software work smoothly with Microsoft's Office productivity suite.

Computerworld reports that in May of 2008 the EU antitrust commission had stated that it would investigate whether support of the ODF format by Microsoft allows consumers to share information between software products of their choice.

Support for the ODF format is among the new features being added to Office 2007 in the second service pack for the application.

"If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." -- SCEA President Jack Tretton
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