Microsoft threatens to pull Windows

Microsoft would have to pull its Windows operating system off the market if proposals by nine states opposing a settlement...

Microsoft would have to pull its Windows operating system off the market if proposals by nine states opposing a settlement between the software giant and the Bush administration are accepted, a US court heard yesterday.

Microsoft lawyer Dan Webb labelled the proposed remedies "extraordinarily harsh and unfair", adding that they were worse than the break-up of the company proposed by Judge Jackson at an earlier stage in the case.

The states seeking tougher remedies against Microsoft have asked the court to make Internet Explorer software code open source as a way of denying the company the benefits of its illegal conduct.

Brendan Sullivan, representing the nine states that have refused to sign the Bush administration's settlement in the case, told Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly that tougher remedies are needed to protect new technologies from a company that left "nothing to chance" in attacking its competitors.

Sullivan also told the court that the company should pay a price for its actions, and called on the judge to give developers complete access to Internet Explorer's programming code.

The browser "is the fruit of Microsoft's statutory violations - it is the fruit, there is no clearer fruit and it should be denied them," said Sullivan.

"The plaintiffs are not here to seek the destruction of Microsoft," Sullivan continued. "The plaintiffs' goal is to make sure Microsoft behaves properly."

"Microsoft has done much good in this world, but it has also acted very, very badly," he said.

Microsoft's attorney replied that the states' remedies would not only harm Microsoft, but consumers as well. "The only beneficiary is Microsoft's competitors," Webb said. He added that the company will show evidence that proves Microsoft competitors such as Sun Microsystems, AOL Time Warner, and Oracle were involved in drafting the remedy proposal.

Webb also said that the proposed remedies go far beyond the findings of a court of appeals decision last June that found Microsoft had violated antitrust law by attempting to extend its monopoly in the PC operating system market into the middleware market. He also accused the non-settling states of introducing new material outside the scope of the original trial.

The trial is set to last eight weeks during which Microsoft will call 25 to 30 witnesses, including chairman Bill Gates and chief executive officer Steve Ballmer, to explain how the states' remedies would wreak havoc on the company and the "PC ecosystem", according to Webb.

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