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DOJ slams Microsoft's antitrust remedy proposal

DOJ slams Microsoft's antitrust remedy proposal

As expected, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) late yesterday lambasted Microsoft's proposal to modify its behaviour in order to restore competition in the software industry. The department repeated its call for the software titan to be split in two.

"Microsoft's proposed remedy would leave it free to continue the very practices which the evidence at trial showed, and this Court found, to be unlawful and would do nothing to restore competition," the DOJ said in its filing, which was submitted in conjunction with the 17 US states that are also plaintiffs in the government's antitrust case against Microsoft.

The purpose of the remedy should be to end Microsoft's unlawful conduct, prevent the vendor from breaking the law in the future, and restore competition in the software industry, the DOJ said in its filing. Microsoft's proposal does nothing to address the last issue, and very little to address the first two, the DOJ added.

"Microsoft's proposed remedy is neither serious or sensible," the DOJ concluded.

The filing also argues that Microsoft hasn't shown good reason why the company shouldn't be broken in two, as the DOJ suggested in its own remedy proposal filed two weeks ago.

"Microsoft attempts to elide the need for structural relief by pretending, contrary to the evidence at trial and this court's findings, that its conduct had no effect on competition," the DOJ said. In fact, evidence at trial showed that Microsoft's conduct eliminated a serious threat to its monopoly posed by Netscape Communications' Web browser and Sun Microsystems' Java programming language, the DOJ said.

The DOJ and 17 US state attorneys general recommended late last month that the judge overseeing the antitrust case - US District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson - should cleave Microsoft into two separate companies - one focussed on the vendor's Windows operating system and the other focussed on software applications.

The DOJ also recommended behavioural restrictions should be placed on Microsoft until the company breakup takes effect. The restrictions include requiring Microsoft to make key Windows APIs (application programming interfaces) available to ISVs (independent software vendors) to give them a more equal chance of creating programs that compete with Microsoft's.

A copy of the filing from the DOJ and 17 U.S. states can be found at the National Association of Attorneys General's Web page at http://www.naag.org/features/microsoft/remedies/replaybrieftomicrosoft.html/.


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