Government to watch over Microsoft antitrust until 2009

For at least two more years the U.S. government will continue to watch over Microsoft’s compliance with the terms of its famous antitrust case settlement.

Court supervision of Microsoft’s compliance with a U.S. antitrust settlement will continue until November 12, 2009, ruled federal district judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly earlier this week. This ruling came in response to a filing by 10 states, including California and New York, to extend oversight until 2012.

In her 78-page ruling, Kollar-Kotelly wrote that her decision comes in part due to Microsoft’s delays in making technical documents available to software licensees as required by the court, especially those related to communications protocols.

Such information makes it easier for other software manufacturers to create products that work well with Microsoft’s operating systems.

The court decree that settled the landmark U.S. antitrust case against Microsoft in 2002 covers Microsoft’s ties to computer makers, how the company’s software works with other types of software and enforcement to ensure that Microsoft does not repeat past practices.

“The Court’s extension should not be viewed as a sanction against Microsoft; to the contrary, the Court commends Microsoft for its willingness to cooperate with the Plaintiffs in this action and in United States v. Microsoft in negotiating solutions to issues as they have arisen throughout the past five years,” wrote Kollar-Kotelly.

Nevertheless, after more than five years, communications protocols are still not available to licensees “in a certifiably complete, accurate, and useable form,” she wrote. The ruling is intended to give Microsoft time to accomplish that task.

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