US States Expected to Ask for Windows Source Code

On Friday, the District of Columbia and nine remaining states waging an antitrust court battle against Microsoft will present their proposed remedy to Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, and the recommendations are expected to be severe. According to sources close to the case, the states are planning to impose strict sanctions on the company that go far beyond the watered down settlement Microsoft was able to strike with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and nine other US states.

One key area the states will tackle regards middleware, those applications that Microsoft bundles with its Windows desktop and server operating systems. Ever since the company bundled Internet Explorer in Windows 98, critics say, the company has been emboldened to add more and more functionality to its monopoly product, shutting out competition and innovation.

Controversially, the states will probably require Microsoft to open at least parts of its Windows source code to competitors so that these companies will be able to create more efficient applications. This request mirrors one made by antitrust regulators in Europe, who are proceeding with their own case against the company.

Also, the states are expected to include Windows XP in its remedy, a new OS that was largely completely ignored in the settlement. XP bundles more applications than any other previous version of Windows, and the states will likely go after that product's digital media features. Microsoft's .NET strategy is also on the chopping block.

One state isn't waiting until spring hearings to take action against Microsoft, however. Earlier this week, West Virginia sued the software giant for allegedly violating that state's antitrust and consumer protection laws. The lawsuit seeks to collect as-yet unspecified damages from Microsoft, and other states will likely launch their own suits. The DOJ settlement included no monetary punishment.

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