Thanks Walter T mastalsz for sending this in.
Microsoft Corp. will have to supply the computer code for its Windows program to a group of states seeking stiffer antitrust sanctions against the software giant, a federal judge ruled Friday.
Nine state attorneys general had argued that they needed to see the Windows source code in order to verify Microsoft's claim it could not offer a simpler version of the Windows personal computer operating system, stripped of features like the Internet Explorer browser.
"It seems to me that if your side has access to it, then the other side, frankly, should have access to it," U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly told Microsoft's lawyers in a conference call with attorneys from both sides.
A transcript of the conversation was later made available.
Microsoft had tried to argue that the states' request for the code, made Tuesday, came too late before hearings due to begin next month on whether additional sanctions should apply to the company for violating U.S. antitrust laws.
Under the judge's order, Microsoft would provide access to the latest code for Windows, including Windows XP embedded, a version the states believe shows the software can be easily customized.
An appeals court in June agreed with a lower court that Microsoft had illegally maintained its monopoly in personal computer operating systems, but rejected splitting the company in two to prevent future violations.
Among the illegal tactics cited by the court was the "commingling" of the Windows source code with add-on programs.
The U.S. Justice Department and another nine states that had joined in the case have agreed to a settlement with Microsoft that would, among other things, give computer makers more flexibility to feature rival software on their machines.
Microsoft has balked at the additional demands of the states that have not settled. They want to give competitors easy access to the detailed Windows code and ensure Microsoft's Office suite of business programs works with other software platforms.
The proposed settlement and the suggestions for stronger sanctions are to be considered by Kollar-Kotelly in separate, but roughly parallel proceedings.