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Microsoft, DOJ Submit Revised Settlement

After receiving more than 32,000 public comments, Microsoft and the U.S. Department of Justice made changes to the proposed antitrust case settlement to answer critics who say the settlement doesn't go far enough.

The sides disclosed the settlement details on Thursday after filing them with U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in Washington.

The Second Revised Proposed Final Judgment makes at least three key changes to the settlement.

  • It deletes a controversial provision that could have allowed Microsoft to use hardware technology patents from computermakers without paying for them.
  • It broadens technical definitions about Microsoft's responsibilities for making sure competitors' software works as well on Windows as Microsoft's own software.
  • It expands the types of technical information Microsoft must give competitors about how software works with Windows server software.

    The settlement does not appear to alter the main points of the original settlement agreement presented to the court in November. That agreement gave PC makers the right to make changes to Windows, created an icon for removing Microsoft middleware from a system, made APIs open, gave other companies a chance to review source code in a "secure" setting and created an independent oversight committee with access to Microsoft's financial books and technical materials.

    The new settlement also does not move toward any of the more sweeping changes called for by the nine remaining states and the District of Columbia, which chose not to join the settlement and are continuing the antitrust action.

    The non-settling states want the court to force Microsoft to create a version of Windows without middleware and create an open-source version of Internet Explorer.

    Earlier this week, Microsoft filed a motion asking Kollar-Kotelly to throw out the non-settling states' case. In a less dramatic move, Microsoft also asked the judge to limit witness testimony in the non-settling states continuing case to PCs and the Windows operating system. Some of the witnesses those states have called are prepared to testify about topics of more interest to the enterprise, including server software and Web services.

    The judge must decide whether she will accept the settlement agreement in the next few months. Hearings on the new settlement agreement are set to begin next week.

    Hearings on the non-settling states' track are set to begin the following week.

  • About the Author

    Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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