The U.S. Justice Department urged a federal judge to turn down California's request to keep Microsoft under court supervision for another five years, saying an antitrust decree has fostered competition for personal computer software. "There is no basis for the court to order a five-year extension" to the consent decree, which expires Jan. 31, the agency said in a court filing Friday.
U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in Washington, D.C., is considering a request by California and other states to extend the decree, which requires Microsoft's development of its Windows operating systems to be supervised by a committee of technical experts and bars the company from blocking competitors. The decree was negotiated by the Bush administration in 2001 after an appeals court ruled that Microsoft illegally protected its monopoly for Windows, which powers more than 95 percent of the world's personal computers. The states argue that the consent decree did little to disrupt Microsoft's monopoly over operating software. They claim that web-based technologies that pose the greatest threat to Microsoft's dominance over personal computer software are beginning to emerge and extending the decree will keep Microsoft, the world's largest software company, from crushing challenges to its Windows monopoly.
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