RealTime IT News

Two More Years Of Federal Oversight For Microsoft

A federal judge has agreed to extend the Justice Department's oversight of Microsoft's business practices by two years, until at least November 2009.

The DoJ and Microsoft had already agreed last Friday to the two-year extension. According to a report by the Associated Press, the DoJ told Kollar-Kotelly the extension was necessary due to Microsoft's difficulty in improving the technical documentation it must provide to licensees under the antitrust settlement.

Government lawyers said they were prepared to extend oversight of Microsoft's business activities through 2012 if they deemed it necessary, but Kollar-Kotelly said she doesn't want it to stretch that long, particularly in light of Microsoft's European antitrust concerns.

In court papers, the DoJ had described Microsoft's efforts under parts of the settlement as "disappointing" and "not very encouraging," but they also said Microsoft's failures were neither willful nor systematic. Microsoft has promised to rewrite numerous technical communication documents to comply with the 2002 settlement.

"This extension will ensure that companies interested in licensing the communications protocols receive the benefit of complete and accurate documentation for the full period of time provided by the court's final judgment," J. Bruce McDonald, deputy assistant attorney general in the DoJ's Antitrust Division, said in a statement.

Judge Kollar-Kotelly also inquired about the IE 7 search engine decision in light of a complaint by Google that the browser defaulted to Microsoft's search engine. The DoJ had closed that case last Friday, dismissing Google's complaint.

"I couldn't quite figure out how it got resolved and why it wasn't a problem," the AP quoted Judge Kollar-Kotelly. She appeared satisfied after Justice Department lawyer Renata Hesse described how easy it was for consumers and computer makers to direct the browser software to use search technology other than Microsoft's, and that if the user's current browser had set another default search engine than MSN and IE 7 was installed, IE 7 would continue to use the original default search engine.