RealTime IT News

States Want More From Microsoft

The nine states that refused to sign onto a settlement agreement between Microsoft Corp. and the U.S. Department of Justice in November, Friday asked the federal judge overseeing the case for several stiff sanctions against the company.

In a filing, the states attorneys general asked Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia to force Microsoft to offer a version of the Windows operating system without middleware products like the Internet Explorer browser and Windows Media Player, and also asked the judge to require Microsoft to allow open-source licensing of the IE browser.

Additionally, the states want to require Microsoft to include Sun Microsystems' Java in Windows and make its Office suite of applications available for licensing to third parties, like Apple Computer -- which already licenses the software -- or vendors which could port the applications suite to Linux.

In a strong statement Friday afternoon, Microsoft signaled its readiness to fight the proposals.

"The proposed remedies submitted today by the nine holdout states are extreme and not commensurate with what is left of the case," the company said. "The court of appeals decision drastically narrowed the liability issues and provides the best road map as we move forward with these remedy proceedings. The settlement we reached with the Department of Justice and nine of the plaintiff states is a fair and reasonable compromise that is good for consumers and will be good for the economy. We are committed to complying fully with the proposed decree and remain hopeful that we can resolve any outstanding issues as quickly as possible in the interest of consumers and the industry."

But since the DOJ first announced the settlement, some industry groups and the nine states which decided to oppose it said the document's provisions, intended to rein in Microsoft's monopolistic practices, were riddled with exceptions that gave the company too much latitude, especially the right to define what is and is not part of the Windows operating system.

"Unlike the Proposed Final Judgment, the states' remedies provide real and meaningful steps that will go a long way toward restoring competition in the software industry and providing consumers with choice in the software products available for purchase," said Ken Wasch, president of the Software & Information Industry Association.

The DOJ's settlement was brokered by Bush administration appointee Assistant Attorney General Charles A. James, head of the DOJ's antitrust division. But career officials at the Justice Department, who had pursued the case since the beginning, displayed their apparent displeasure with the agreement by not signing it.

Microsoft must respond to the latest filing next week.