States Ask for More Court Oversight for Microsoft

An antitrust settlement reached in 2002 requiring federal oversight of software-giant Microsoft Corp. is set to expire on November 12th of this year, and this has some US states worried. A group of states led by California has asked a federal judge today to extend court oversight of Microsoft Corp.'s business practices for five more years; Stephen Houck, an attorney representing California, said an extension was necessary to ensure that Microsoft's new Vista operating system continues to comply with the antitrust settlement. "It would be short-sighted to end the final judgements just now," Houck told Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly. Among the concerned states are Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.

The US Justice Department, meanwhile, said in court filings that it believes the antitrust settlement has been effective in encouraging the development of new software, such as competing Web browsers by Apple Inc. and Mozilla. Aaron Hoag, a department lawyer, told Kollar-Kotelly that Vista has already been tested by a technical committee and shouldn't pose future antitrust problems.

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