Microsoft trial draws to a close finally

20 June 2002 The Microsoft antitrust trial drew towards a close yesterday when judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly heard the closing arguments of both sides in the rebel states’ appeal against proposed settlement.

The nine rebel states reiterated their call for tougher action against the software giant to curb what they called Microsoft’s “thuggish” business practices. In reply, Microsoft attorney John Warden said that the states’ proposed remedy was fundamentally flawed. Both sides rejected calls for compromise.

“Priority number one really is disclosure,” said Steve Kuney, a lawyer representing the rebel states. They believe that Microsoft should be compelled to open up the source of code of its products to make it easier for software vendors to develop their products.

Complying with the judge’s request to prioritise their arguments, the rebel state’s lawyers said that their next most important demands included the production of a modular version of the Windows operating system to enable hardware vendors to produce more highly-customised PCs that can more easily be pre-loaded with applications from rivals; distribution of Sun’s Java virtual machine (JVM) and the opening up of the source code of the Internet Explorer web browser.

According to the Wall Street Journal, lesser demands included the licensing of key Microsoft intellectual property, an undertaking to adhere to industry standards and better protection for hardware makers from threats of retaliation from Microsoft.

Microsoft rejected all of these demands. “Those provisions are not necessary for an effective remedy … We negotiated. We went as far as we thought we could go. That’s the deal,” said Microsoft lawyer John Warden.

He argued that the concessions demanded would “wipe out” Microsoft’s intellectual property portfolio, going “far beyond anything Judge Jackson even thought about”. Jackson had originally found Microsoft guilty of violating US antitrust law. He added that the curbs would reduce the company’s incentive to improve its software and develop new products.

However, Kollar-Kotelly gave no indication of who she would side with, but she is expected to reach her judgement before the end of the summer.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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