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Judge hears arguments for revised settlement

Lawyers representing with Microsoft and the US Department of Justice (DOJ) claimed in court that their proposed agreement goes further than last year's court of appeals ruling.

Microsoft also told Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly that it hopes to put five years of arguing with the government behind it and build constructive relationships.

The DOJ and Microsoft presented their cases to Judge Kollar-Kotelly on 6 March.

The US government made the first presentation, stressing that the proposed settlement has the public's interest in mind more so than the likely outcome if the DOJ had pursued remedies for Microsoft.

"The DOJ and the states have negotiated an excellent decree that is in the public interest and furthers the policies of antitrust law," said Phil Beck, an attorney with the Justice Department.

While critics of the settlement suggest that the agreement does not go far enough to curtail Microsoft's business practices, Beck maintained that such issues were outside the scope of this case.

Since the proposed settlement called for modifications to Microsoft's business practices that go beyond those outlined by the court of appeals, this agreement represented the best case scenario.

The proposed settlement "addresses all of the issues addressed by the court of appeals ... and goes beyond in some respects," Beck said.

Microsoft's lawyer, John Warden, agreed that since the appeals' court decision, the scope of this antitrust case has been limited.

"That court of appeals decision is the reference for this court's decision," Warden told the judge.

The nine states that settled with Microsoft, as well as a number of third parties for and against the settlement, are scheduled to address the court as the hearing continues.

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