States drop Office from MS antitrust suits

Twenty U.S. states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) have dropped Office from their antitrust lawsuits against Microsoft. The amended suits, which no longer include a complaint about Microsoft's alleged bundling of Office on PCs that use Windows, are now more concise and sharply focused.

"This allows the states to devote their full resources to preparing for trial on Microsoft's conduct relating to Web browsers and operating systems while continuing their investigation into Microsoft's conduct regarding Office productivity suites," said New York Attorney General Dennis Vacco.

The states originally filed suit in May, charging Microsoft with protecting its Windows monopoly through illegal anti-competitive business practices. The new suit now focuses more on Microsoft's bundling of IE with Windows. Microsoft sees the change as positive.

"Obviously, this is a very positive result for Microsoft," said a Microsoft spokesman Mark Murray. "The action by the states combined with the appeals court ruling in favor of Microsoft's integration of new features means that several major elements of the government's case have been eliminated. We've said all along that the states' allegations about Office licensing and Outlook Express were completely unfounded. We're pleased that the states have withdrawn this accusation, but it's troubling that the accusations were ever made in the first place.

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