6 March 2002 District court judge Coleen Kollar-Kotelly will today hold a hearing that could finally bring the four-year legal battle between the US government and Microsoft to a close.
Lawyers for the software giant, alongside representatives from nine US states that oppose Microsoft’s proposed settlement on the grounds that it is not harsh enough, will present arguments for and against a proposed settlement to Kollar-Kotelly. The judge will then decide whether this out of court settlement is in the public interest.
However, Kollar-Kotelly’s decision could be affected by an eleventh-hour request by Microsoft to the US District Court to delay the trial by another two weeks. Microsoft, which requested the delay on Tuesday, said this was because the nine states rejecting the settlement had “substantially revised” their proposed remedy.
The nine states argue that the changes are only minor. The nine US states originally voiced their demands for a tougher settlement against Microsoft in December 2001. They included the open sourcing of the Internet Explorer web browser and the licensing of the Office applications suite so that third parties can port the software to other operating systems.
The one notable change, according to a representative from opposing state Iowa, is a request that Microsoft offer a modular version of the Windows operating system software. This would enable computer manufacturers to more easily bundle alternatives to many Microsoft applications which are currently integrated with the operating system.
It is unclear whether Judge Kollar-Kotelly will make a decision straight away, or wait for the second part of the case – which commences 9 March – when the nine rebel states will be able to make their arguments in favour of tougher sanctions against Microsoft.
In this stage of the saga, each side will have 100 hours to present their case and bring witnesses forward. This process is expected to last between six and eight weeks.