Massachusetts, the lone state left standing among the so-called nonsettling states from Microsoft's US antitrust trial, again raised concerns this week that the company is undeterred by its consent decree. In a scheduled filing with the US District Court for the District of Columbia this week, Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly said that Microsoft's November 2002 consent decree with the US government hasn't restored competition and isn't working. He also noted that the state is continuing its investigation into Microsoft's search-engine plans in a bid to stop the company from killing Google, as it has countless other competitors, including Netscape in the late 1990s.
"This \[lack of competition\] is perhaps most disturbing in the Communications Protocol arena, because this aspect of the remedy was supposed to unfetter competition by nurturing development \[of competitive server products\]," Reilly wrote in the filing. "It appears that the competitive impact of the decree in this key area is essentially nonexistent."
In addition, Reilly discussed his concern that Microsoft will again bundle features with a future major Windows release, specifically to curtail competition in upcoming new markets. In this case, he's concerned about "issues regarding Internet search engines, document-format programs, and other functionalities that Microsoft allegedly plans to incorporate into the next version of its Windows operating system."
In related news, this week, federal regulators asked Microsoft to disclose more information to competitors that license software code from the company under the provision of the consent decree that Reilly complained about. According to US Department of Justice (DOJ) regulators, competitors that have signed up to get technical information from Microsoft haven't received enough documentation to put that information to good use, and other companies have refused to sign up as a result. "We have concluded that the technical documentation needs substantial revision in order to ensure that is usable by licensees," a DOJ report issued this week stated. Microsoft pledged to work with regulators to ensure that competitors get enough documentation.