Microsoft, States Spar Over Delay

Earlier this week, the nine states still seeking tougher antitrust restrictions against Microsoft rejected the company's request to delay hearings in the case until next summer. Instead, the states say, the judge should hold hearings in March as originally scheduled because Microsoft had plenty of warning that the states were seeking more drastic remedies against the company. Microsoft says the states' proposed remedies represent "a dramatic expansion" of the case and will require more preparation time.

"\[Microsoft's\] motion \[to delay\] is little more than a recycling of Microsoft's previously rejected arguments for delay," says a court filing that the states issued.

According to the current timetable, Microsoft will appear for hearings before Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly beginning March 11. Separate Tunney Act hearings will determine whether the company's earlier proposed settlement with the DOJ and nine other states is adequate and in the public interest. The nine dissenting states would prefer Kollar-Kotelly to hold the Tunney Act hearings after the March remedy hearings so a conclusion of Microsoft's antitrust trial could incorporate the remedies both sides offer. But Kollar-Kotelly has already said that the Tunney Act hearings will go forward first, although a date hasn't been set. If the judge accepts the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Microsoft settlement before the states' hearings, it's not clear whether she will accept additional remedies. The states, which include California, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Utah, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia, say they will continue to fight regardless of the schedule.

"We have proposed reasonable remedies, and the judge has set a reasonable schedule," Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said in a statement issued earlier this week. "Let's get on to the conclusion of this case so we can prevent further harm to competition and consumers."

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