Airbus has withdrawn a filing which gave support for Microsoft in an antitrust case before the European Union's Court of First Instance, a source close to the situation said on Friday.
The withdrawal, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, occurred only days after leading aircraft maker Airbus sent its filing to the Luxembourg-based EU court.
Airbus had said in the brief it filed that it was concerned the Microsoft decision might adversely affect its own ability to innovate.
The cover page of the Airbus filing said it was in support of Microsoft, but Airbus has insisted it was neutral and had never meant to back Microsoft. (MSNBC is a Microsoft-NBC joint venture.)
Microsoft had called the filing by Airbus an important development in the case.
In March, the European Commission found that Microsoft had abused its dominance of PC operating systems and ordered it to make changes to create a more level playing field for rivals.
The Commission, the European Union's antitrust watchdog, slapped a 497-million-euro ($612.2 million) fine on Microsoft, a tiny amount of the company's reserves of more than $50 billion.
Hearings start next Thursday, Sept. 30, over whether to suspend sanctions against Microsoft until the case is finally decided several years from now.
The Commission had required Microsoft to sell a version of its windows operating system to computer makers without the Windows Media Player audiovisual software, so that they could chose an alternative.
It had also required Microsoft to share information so that rival makers of some servers competing with it could connect to desktop computers as easily as Microsoft's own offering in the field.
On Friday, a source said it was not clear whether the filing had been given a full green light by the top management of Airbus.
In some cases, the source said, information technology departments, which must depend on Microsoft, have expressed support for its legal positions. Such letters of support sometimes turned out to be without the knowledge or support of senior company officers, the source said.
Last week, a spokesman for Airbus said the company had been following legal procedures for clarification on a technical point. EU court rules require that all filings are for one side or the other.