The judge examining whether or not to suspend sanctions in the European Union's anti-trust ruling against Microsoft has called a meeting to determine how the case should proceed following the withdrawal of two of its major participants.

Sanctions include a 497.2 million euros fine, the publication of APIs related to network servers and the unbundling of the media player software from Windows.

The meeting, called by Judge Bo Vesterdorf of the Court of First Instance (CFI) in Luxembourg, will be held today, said Bruce Lowry, a spokesman with Novell, one of the companies that has withdrawn from the case. "The judge called a meeting and invited all parties to the EU action to attend in order to discuss procedural matters having to do with the withdrawal of the CCIA and Novell," he said.

Novell and the CCIA industry organisation had been participating in the European Commission's case against Microsoft, but they both settled their anti-trust claims earlier this month. As a result, both have agreed to withdraw from the case, leaving RealNetworks as the last company with a broad complaint in the matter. Other industry organisations, including the Free Software Foundation, also remain involved in the case.

Thursday's meeting has been called to determine whether testimony from Novell and CCIA should be removed from the case, said a source familiar with the proceedings. There is also some remaining controversy after leaked confidential memos revealed that the CCIA's president Ed Black personally received half of the anti-trust settlement Microsoft reached with it.

Black is reported to have personally taken $9.75 million of the $19.75 million total settlement in a deal approved by the CCIA board, raising questions over his impartiality.

In March, the European Commission concluded a five-year investigation into Microsoft, concluding that the software vendor had abused its dominance in the PC operating system market, giving it an unfair advantage over rivals. The Commission imposed the fine and ordered Microsoft to offer a version of Windows that did not include its Windows Media Player software. It also ordered Microsoft to open up parts of its Windows code so that rivals could build competing products.

Microsoft appealed the ruling to the CFI, and Vesterdorf is examining whether to suspend some or all of the Commission's remedies or to deny Microsoft's appeal.