DoJ reveals Microsoft competitors' complaints

The US Department of Justice has released the first batch of 47 "major" comments on its proposed settlement of the Microsoft...

The US Department of Justice has released the first batch of 47 "major" comments on its proposed settlement of the Microsoft antitrust case.

The US government received 30,000 comments - 7,500 supporting the settlement; 15,000 opposing it; and 7,000 expressed no particular view.

Among those opposing the settlement was Senator Herb Kohl, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Business Rights and Competition. Kohl said the settlement has "so many loopholes, exceptions, qualifications and definitional limitations that Microsoft can easily avoid its requirements."

For example, Kohl said, the settlement allows PC makers to replace icons, or shortcuts, on the desktop with non-Microsoft applications. But the settlement said these rival products must have distributed one million copies of their products in the prior year.

This "loophole," he said, could "have a negative impact on the flow of venture capital and investment to technology start-ups - precisely the engine that drove the economic expansion of the late 1990s and a key to further expansion of our all-important technology sector."

Other filings released last week include:
  • Palm, the handheld device maker, said that Microsoft "is already engaging in actions designed to unfairly extend its personal computing operating system monopoly into the mobile computing market by eliminating competition and preventing free choice."

    Palm products need to be compatible with Windows to win consumer acceptance, but the company alleged that Microsoft is refusing Palm access to information and software interfaces. Palm said Microsoft has refused to make Internet Explorer operate on Palm OS handhelds, among other complaints.

  • AOL Time Warner, the company that owns Netscape Communications, said the settlement is "too limited in its objectives and too flawed," and that the settlement's "patchwork of constraints on Microsoft's conduct is so loophole-ridden and exception-laden as to render its provisions ineffective."

  • Catavault, a developer of authentication software that competes with Microsoft .net Passport, said it is "in the crosshairs of the most powerful software company in the world" and said it is "severely endangered by the steps Microsoft is taking to ensure that .Net Passport becomes the dominant occupant of the online identity."

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