Friday, May 16, 2003

Antitrust News: Microsoft II

When is an antitrust settlement not worth the paper it is printed on. When you're Microsoft.

Six months after a federal settlement was ordered to remedy Microsoft Corp.'s anti-competitive conduct, two states, several business rivals and some users still say the software company wields too much power in the marketplace.

Attorneys General Thomas Reilly of Massachusetts and Darrell McGraw of West Virginia are continuing the battle for tough antitrust remedies after the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia approved the settlement last year. In a brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit last week, the states argued that the remedies do not stop Microsoft's illegal conduct, restore competitive conditions or deny the Redmond, Wash., software company the fruits of its anti-competitive behavior.

A key sticking point for critics is that the remedy does not require Microsoft to unbundle middleware code from the Windows operating system but allows only users and PC manufacturers to remove the middleware icon from the desktop. Critics also said the API and protocol disclosure leave too much discretion to Microsoft to define terms.
Microsoft settled with the government, but it has never seen the benefit of that settlement. It's still being hauled to court as a matter of course, be it by the ravenous state AG's, class action litigants, or whatever other form of parasite with a law degree and a nose for the unearned.

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