US seeks extension to Microsoft antitrust ruling

The US government is seeking court approval for a two-year extension to a 2002 antitrust ruling against Microsoft, requiring it to make elements of its server technology available to rivals.

The US government is seeking court approval for a two-year extension to a 2002 antitrust ruling against Microsoft, requiring it to make elements of its server technology available to rivals.
 
Under the terms of the ruling, the software giant must make available to competitors details of the technology that allows its server operating systems to work with client PCs running Windows.

But in a regular status report to the US courts, the US Department of Justice warned of concerns over the quality of the technical documentation that Microsoft is providing to licensees to comply with final judgment.

The Department of Justice and Microsoft have agreed that the software firm will now rewrite “significant portions of the documentation” in an effort to sharply improve its quality.

But the rewrite will require extra time, sparking the Department’s application for a two-year extension to the ruling, which is set to expire in autumn 2007.

The application to the courts was “not a result of any belief that Microsoft has willfully violated the final judgment”, the department said.

Microsoft has agreed to extend its communications protocol licensing programme, set up to comply with the ruling. But court approval is necessary to prevent the original judgment expiring.

Deputy assistant attorney general J Bruce McDonald said, “This extension will ensure that companies interested in licensing the communications protocols receive the benefit of complete and accurate documentation for the full period of time provided by the court’s final judgment.”

The two parties have agreed that the US government could apply for a further extension in 2009, for up to three years.

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