RealTime IT News

More States Pile on Microsoft

As InternetNews.comfirst reported yesterday, in a surprise move late Thursday, four states – three of which previously had signed off on letting most oversight of Microsoft's antitrust settlement lapse next month -- joined with a group of other states calling for a five year extension of monitoring.

With their latest filing, the four states -- New York, Maryland, Louisiana, and Florida -- joined the so-called "California Group" of states, which has opposed letting the oversight lapse. That group includes California, Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia.

Most of the restrictions and oversight of Microsoft set out in the 2002 consent decree are scheduled to lapse on November 12. The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) has supported the expiration, and in a filing in August, three of the four states had agreed. Florida did not sign off on that filing.

That's all changed now, however.

Calling Microsoft "an entrenched monopolist," the four states now argue that the company should be subject to the more common ten-years of oversight found in most antitrust consent decrees. (For the sake of clarity, the four states refer to themselves as the "Additional Moving States.")

"Experience since entry of the Court’s decree in 2002 refutes the central assumption that supported departure from the 10-year term typical of antitrust remedial decrees – that the industry section was characterized by rapid change. Just the opposite: Microsoft's Windows monopoly is indisputably resilient," the Additional Moving States' filing said.

The move comes on the heels of the California Group's filing earlier in the week, formalizing that group's earlier verbal request to U.S. Federal Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly for a five year extension at a status hearing last month, and echoes many of the same issues.

"The inescapable fact remains that, at the client operating system level, Microsoft has a 90 percent plus market share," the Additional Moving States said in their filing.

Microsoft, of course, disagrees with both the California Group and the Additional Moving States' filings.

"We believe the consent decree has served its purpose. Microsoft has worked hard to implement the decree's requirements and has changed its practices as a result," said a company spokesperson in a statement e-mailed to InternetNews.com.

"We also have committed to a broad set of operating principles going forward that go beyond the scope of the decree," Microsoft's statement said.

Judge Kollar-Kotelly will hold another status hearing on November 6.