U.S. government drops pursuit of Microsoft breakup

In a victory for Microsoft Corp., the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division Thursday said that it will not force a breakup of the software giant, nor will the agency pursue further proceedings on tying counts contained in the original case.

Likely facing the realities of the District Court’s position against the breakup punishment, the Justice Department made the concessions in tandem with a joint status report Microsoft is to file to the court by Sept. 14.

“In view of the Court of Appeals’ unanimous decision that Microsoft illegally maintained its monopoly over PC-based operating systems – the core allegation in the case – the Department believes that it has established a basis for relief that would end Microsoft’s unlawful conduct,” reads the Justice Department statement.

Although willing to drop the two key demands, Justice Department officials said the agency would still be able to prevent further such conduct and “open the operating system market to competition,” according to the statement.

“Pursuing a liability determination on the tying claim would only prolong proceedings and delay the imposition of relief that would benefit consumers,” the statement continues.

Now the Justice Department will go along with the provisions of the final judgment issued in the case and seek an order modeled after that directive.

Also, the Justice Department will petition the court to look into developments in the industry since the trial’s conclusion and “evaluate whether additional conduct-related provisions are necessary, especially in the absence of a breakup.”

Overall, the Justice Department said it is interested now in ways to “streamline the case with the goal of securing an effective remedy as soon as possible.”

Microsoft Canada, in Mississauga, Ont., can be reached at http://www.microsoft.ca.

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