DOJ Seeks Microsoft Antitrust Oversight Extension

The DOJ is asking Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly to extend her oversight of Microsoft stemming from its 2002 conviction as a predatory monopolist for another 18 months. Reversing the stance of the DOJ in the previous administration, the current Department of Justice said the additional time was needed to allow Microsoft to finish providing technical documentation of Windows, as ordered in the original 2002 settlement.

The move from the DOJ rejoins the federal office with the ten State Attorneys General who originally partnered with the DOJ to pursue an antitrust case against Microsoft in the late 1990s. That case resulted in a conviction of the company, but a remedy from the presiding judge to break the company into multiple companies was overturned on appeal by Judge Kollar-Kotelly, who found bias in the actions of the presiding judge.

That appeals process resulted in greatly weakened remedy agreed to between the DOJ, the ten State Attorneys General, and Microsoft itself. The new remedy included promises to behave from Microsoft, an order to provide extensive documentation on Windows to the marketplace, requirements that Microsoft license certain technologies and protocols to competitors, and other minor rules and restrictions on the behavior of Microsoft.

The settlement was originally supposed to expire in 2007, but was extended until the end of 2009 as Microsoft worked on various aspects of the settlement. Today's request for an extension would keep those areas of Microsoft under the purview of Judge Kollar-Kotelly until 2011.

According to PC World, a status report that accompanied the request said, "It is clear to Plaintiffs that Microsoft has made substantial progress in improving the technical documentation over the last two years. While the entire project has taken longer than any of the parties anticipated, the project is nearly complete."

The report also said that there remains much work to still be done, and that even when the documentation is initially complete, there will likely be "thousands" to bugs to be fixed.