Microsoft gained the support of an international group representing about 1,600 small and medium-size companies in its appeal against a...

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Microsoft gained the support of an international group representing about 1,600 small and medium-size companies in its appeal against a European Union antitrust order.

The International Association of Microsoft Certified Partners, which represents companies that develop software based on the Windows operating system, asked the European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg for permission to support Microsoft’s appeal, said Per Werngren, the group’s president.

“We’re fighting a trend that’s weakening our business,” Werngren, chief executive of software maker IDE Natverkskonsulterna, said yesterday. “It’s not a matter of principle. It’s a matter of our bread and butter.”

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Microsoft, whose software runs more than 90 percent of the world’s personal computers, was ordered by European regulators in March 2004 to sell a version of Windows without a music and video player and to license information on the inner workings of the operating system to competitors. The European Commission, the EU’s antitrust watchdog, also fined the Redmond company $601 million.

Members of the International Association of Microsoft Certified Partners, based in Stockholm, Sweden, said in a statement that they want “to prevent the increase of their costs and the consumer pain that the commission decision will generate.”

Last month IBM, Oracle and Nokia won court permission to join the antitrust case against Microsoft. The companies are members of an organization called the European Committee for Interoperability Systems.

The Court of First Instance, Europe’s second-highest tribunal, said in March that RealNetworks could argue against Microsoft. It also admitted trade groups Software and Information Industry Association and Free Software Foundation Europe eV to argue against Microsoft’s request to annul the EU ruling.

The International Association of Microsoft Certified Partners is asking to join Mamut ASA, the Association for Competitive Technology and the Computing Technology Industry Association, which already have won permission to support Microsoft.

Jonathan Todd, a commission spokesman, had no comment on the trade group’s request.