MS/DOJ: Microsoft oversight committee takes shape

A three-person technical committee that will enforce Microsoft Corp.’s compliance with the antitrust settlement approved earlier this month is taking shape with the proposal of two members by Microsoft and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

The DOJ and nine states – New York, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, and Wisconsin – requested the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to appoint Harry Saal to the committee. Microsoft asked for the appointment of Franklin Fite, according to a motion filed Thursday with the court by the DOJ.

If Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly approves the appointments, Saal and Fite will select the third member of the committee. Each member is appointed for 30 months. The committee is to work from Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Wash., and has broad powers, including the right to interview any Microsoft personnel and access to Microsoft’s source code, according to Kollar-Kotelly’s final judgment approving the settlement.

Saal was founder and chief executive officer of network diagnostics company Network General Corp., now Network Associates Inc., as well as founder of computer networking company Nestar Systems Inc. Saal holds doctorate, master’s and bachelor’s degrees in physics from Columbia University and has taught Computer Science, according to a DOJ memorandum accompanying the appointment request.

Fite worked at Microsoft from 1992 to 2000, where he spent the last six years as director and later as general manager for the Windows CE operating system. Fite was also a supervisor for the Software Process Laboratory at AT&T Bell Labs and holds a master’s degree in computer engineering from Stanford University and a bachelor’s degree in computer science and electrical engineering from Vanderbilt University, according to the memorandum.

Both Saal and Fite are experts in software design and programming and have no conflict of interest that could prevent them from performing their duties under the final judgment, according to the memorandum. These were requirements set in the final judgment, which approved most of the provisions of a settlement deal between the DOJ and nine states and Microsoft.