RealTime IT News

Microsoft Agrees to 18 More Months of Oversight

In a filing with the judge presiding over its antitrust case late Thursday, Microsoft agreed with a government request to extension of federal oversight by another 18 months.

Combined with a two-year extension already . granted to the Department of Justice (DoJ) last year, that will take the oversight of Microsoft's behaviors – particularly in providing accurate documentation to licensees – out to May 12, 2011. Otherwise, the oversight would have expired on November 12, 2009.

As with the last extension, the latest extension request arose from Microsoft's slowness in providing interoperability documentation to licensees, which was mandated in the original consent decree in order to provide a level playing field for competitors.

While Windows 7 is included in the examination of Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) systems documentation, it does not appear to be a major reason for the extension.

"The pending release of a new version of Windows will not provide grounds for Plaintiffs to exercise their right to seek a further extension of the Final Judgments for up to eighteen additional months beyond May 12, 2011," the filing said.

In fact, the DoJ and the states requested the extension so that the final documentation required under the consent decree can be thoroughly vetted by the plaintiffs' "technical committee," or TC. For one thing, Microsoft has many "technical documentation issues," or TDIs, that must still be resolved, the plaintiffs' portion of the filing stated.

"Plaintiffs would like to emphasize that it is not the upcoming release of Windows 7 or the new technical documentation covering Windows 7 that led Plaintiffs to conclude that an extension of the Final Judgments was necessary. Rather, Plaintiffs need to thoroughly review the complete set of technical documentation to reach any final conclusions concerning its quality and this will only be possible when Microsoft releases the final system documents on June 30, 2009," the filing said.

All-in-all, the extension adds more time to the government's oversight of the November 2002 consent decree. That decree provided for federal oversight into Microsoft's business behaviors for five years – a period that was set to expire last November.

However, Microsoft had already agreed to a two-year extension for examination of protocol information. Judge Kollar-Kotelly extended the other aspects of the oversight to coincide with the original extension.

Microsoft officials had no comment beyond what is contained in the jointly-filed report.

Judge Kollar-Kotelly has scheduled a hearing regarding the latest extension request for April 22.