Microsoft Judge OKs Antitrust Extension - InformationWeek

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5/18/2006
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Microsoft Judge OKs Antitrust Extension

The federal judge approved a two-year extension of the Microsoft antitrust agreement, but not before grilling government attorneys.

The federal judge overseeing the Microsoft antitrust agreement agreed to a two-year extension on Wednesday, but questioned Department of Justice lawyers over their take on Internet Explorer 7.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly signed off on the two-year extension which the Department of Justice and Microsoft agreed on last week.

The DOJ asked that the agreement be extended to at least 2009 (with a possible additional extension to 2012)to make sure Microsoft produces the technical documentation on Windows protocols that it's required to provide to other software makers.

But Kollar-Kotelly wondered why the DOJ had decided that Microsoft's new browser, Internet Explorer 7, did not violate the antitrust settlement as rivals, including Google, have implied.

In papers submitted to the judge, the DOJ said it had looked into concerns that IE 7 was giving Microsoft's own search service, MSN Search, an unfair advantage since the browser defaulted to MSN if no other search engine had been previously specified, or locked in by the computer manufacturer. However, it concluded that the browser wasn't giving Microsoft a leg up.

Wednesday, Kollar-Kotelly told DOJ lawyers "I couldn't quite figure out how [the IE 7 issue] got resolved and why it wasn't a problem," according to the Associated Press. She seemed satisfied only after one of the Justice Department lawyers explained how easy it was for users to change the default search engine.

Kollar-Kotelly also warned the DOJ to stay on top of Microsoft to make sure that the U.S. settlement didn't take back seat to the ongoing effort by the European Union's Competition Commission to get its own antitrust ruling to stick. "We started earlier, and I'm not going to be stuck going to 2012 because the European Commission got something faster," she told the AP. "I want to be sure we have the resources to get this done."

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