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Microsoft, States Present Final Remedy Hearing Filings

Microsoft and the nine states allied against it presented their final legal filings to a federal court yesterday, inching one step closer to a resolution of Microsoft's 4-year-old antitrust battle. The filings--massive documents, each about 500 pages long--reflect Microsoft's and the nonsettling states' opinions about the testimony and cross-examination of 34 witnesses during 2 months of antitrust remedy hearings. Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly will use the hearings, evidence, and various court filings to decide whether the company should face stricter sanctions than those imposed by its late 2001 proposed settlement with the US government and nine other states. The nine nonsettling states and the District of Columbia believe that Microsoft's agreement with the government is too weak and would let the company continue its predatory behavior. Microsoft, however, says that the states don't have the legal standing to demand further remedies and is asking the judge to throw out the case.

"Today's court filing details the strong record we built during trial and provides evidence that supports our main arguments: That the states' remedy is unworkable, would cause great harm to the PC ecosystem, would hurt consumers, and is hopelessly vague and ambiguous," Microsoft said in a statement issued yesterday. The nonsettling states, however, say that Microsoft must face stricter sanctions for the laws it broke. "Our objective is to restore meaningful competition for consumers in America's computer software marketplace," said Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller.

Judge Kollar-Kotelly has an unenviable job. She must decide whether to accept the government's proposed settlement or the nonsettling states' remedy proposal or some combination of both. And she must decide whether the states' remedy demands are legal to begin with, although precedent says that they are.

Both sides will present final arguments in court beginning June 19. Kollar-Kotelly is expected to craft her final decisions sometime this summer, possibly as early as July.

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