Massachusetts, the only state still actively pursuing a stricter set of remedies for Microsoft's antitrust crimes, announced Friday that it is investigating the company for a "troubling" new set of antitrust violations. "We have continued to receive and review indications that Microsoft is engaged in troubling business behavior," Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly noted in a written statement. "None of our completed investigations have shown such behavior to be effectively cabined by the court's existing prohibitions."
Massachusetts alleges that Microsoft "is currently engaged in a campaign against various Internet search engines similar to the campaign it previously waged against Netscape's Navigator browser." The state is also investigating charges that Microsoft is launching illegal offenses against document formats such as the Adobe Acrobat PDF format. "If Microsoft is taking steps to hobble the competitive effectiveness of these rival products and thereby supplant them, such serial killing of competing technologies is a serious and troubling prospect," the Massachusetts announcement states. "It also, however, seems unlikely that this conduct ... could be stopped by the limited scope of this court's standing \[consent\] decree."
The technical press has been closely scrutinizing Microsoft's moves in the Internet search-engine market since last October, when the company demonstrated the integrated search capabilities of Longhorn, its next Windows version. Various analysts have speculated that Microsoft's search technology is designed to attack Internet search-engine leader Google, and just last week Microsoft unveiled its new MSN 9 software, which includes a revamped MSN Web site with improved search capabilities.
"Given the vague nature of the allegations, it's difficult to respond," a Microsoft spokesperson said late Friday. "We're always willing to sit down and discuss issues of concern with them."