Judge Agrees to Extend Microsoft Antitrust Oversight

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly approved a two-year extension of Microsoft's US antitrust oversight yesterday, noting that she was "disappointed" in the software giant's lack of compliance. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) had previously asked the judge to extend oversight of Microsoft's business practices through November 2009; it would have previously expired in late 2007.

"I want to make sure we have the resources to get things done," Kollar-Kotelly said yesterday in the Federal District Court in Washington D.C, referring to Microsoft's continued inability to ship documentation for its competitors in the server space. (This is a different, but similar, issue to what Microsoft is facing in its European Union antitrust case.) "I want to make sure we are not shortchanged."

In a show of humility, Microsoft agreed to the DOJ's request to extend the oversight time period. The company admits that its efforts to date have been substandard and it has outlined steps it will take to completely rewrite much of the documentation. Microsoft is also opening an interoperability lab where other companies can test their solutions and get on-sight help from Microsoft engineers. Kollar-Kotelly approved of the plan but said, "I wish this had been done earlier."

Microsoft now has 300 employees working on its various antitrust requirements and senior vice president Bob Muglia, who was recently put in charge of these efforts. "We've made the decision this is the highest priority project in the company," he told the court.

Kollar-Kotelly asked the DOJ to determine whether another part of Microsoft's consent decree, in which the company is barred from penalizing PC makers for promoting products that compete with Microsoft products, should be extended as well. However, the DOJ said such an extension would not be necessary. The judge noted that she might impose a further three year compliance extension if Microsoft doesn't move quickly to make some progress. She scheduled a court date for September 7 to gauge Microsoft's efforts.

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