The historical Microsoft Anti-Trust case in the Washington, DC US District Courtroom of Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly may reach remedy soon. The reason for the case at all is due to nine of the 18 states deciding to continue their stance against Microsoft, and proceed with the lawsuit, which, at this time has a proposed remedy from the other nine states and the US Justice Department. The leftover nine states have said that the proposed remedy settlement reached by the other nine states and the US Justice Department is not satisfactory, and wouldn't lead to Microsoft being punished suitably.|
Nearly 2 months of testimony and a total of 33 called witnesses will reach the final closing arguments today. On Tuesday, June 18th, Judge Kollar-Kotelly asked the plantiff states "how could the defendant's proposed remedy be midified to make its terms more acceptable to plantiffs?" During her instructions to both sides, she also asked what changes the states would make to their remedy to satisfy issues raised during the court proceeding while still maintaining the remedy's goals.
In her instructions given to Microsoft, Kollar-Kotelly wanted to know which provisions of the states' proposed remedy "would prove least onerous to (the) defendant, yet remain effective as a remedy." In continuing, she also asked Microsoft to identify provisions in its proposed remedy that "are more readily susceptible to reasonable modification." For both sides, it seems the Judge wanted the sides to find their own cooperative level, while she weighs her own ideas of the settlement proposals.
The landmark case has lasted nearly 4 years, and each side will have about 3 hours today to make their closing arguments.
"We look forward to today's closing arguments and the opportunity to crystallize the very compelling evidence presented in court that makes abundantly clear the substantial harm to consumers and the PC ecosystem posed by the states' remedy proposal," said Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler.
One of the more ridiculous proposed remedies was one from the states in which they address that Microsoft should be required to release a seperate version of Windows, without Internet Explorer. This idea touches on a previous Court of Appeals ruling that Microsoft's commingling of Internet Explorer code with that of Windows was anti-competitive. In their unanimous decision, a panel of seven judges found that the commingling had no technical justification, but that it did discourage consumers from downloading the Netscape browser and reduced internet in that browser.
It is my professional viewpoint that a "modular" version of Windows, like the one Kollar-Kottelly requested to see a demonstration of - Windows XP Embedded, won't be included in any remedy settlement. Kollar-Kottelly wasn't able to see the Windows XP demonstration due to a procedural error made by the plaintiff states, which forced them to withdraw the memo which sparked her interest in the demonstration in the first place. The states aimed to prove that Windows XP Embedded wouldn't cause any harm to consumers used to the full blown Windows XP, and that XP Embedded could indeed be modified by Microsoft to easily be the "modular" Windows the states wanted. Microsoft Chief Software Architect Bill Gates, in his testimony, made it clear that Windows XP Embedded wasn't designed to run on a Desktop PC, but, in one of his examples, was running "Gas Pumps" not "Word Processors".
One of the biggest immediate changes, as a result of this case and another recent one brought by Sun against Microsoft, is that of Microsoft now stating it will include its 1997 version of the Java Virtual Machine in Windows XP Service Pack 1. Microsoft actually announced this in court breifings filed to remove an argument from the table of Sun, who recently filed a lawsuit agains Microsoft regarding its use or rather non-use of Java. Another reaction to the settlement reached by the US Justice Department, Microsoft, and the nine withdrawled states is that of the middleware. Middleware described in the court documents are Internet Explorer, Windows Messenger, Outlook Express, Windows Media Player, and Microsofts version of the Java Virtual Machine. Also in Windows XP Service Pack one is the new ability to easily hide these applications from the user in Windows XP. Windows XP Service pack one is currently in beta testing.
Legal analysts say Judge Kollar-Kotelly will have to proceed carefully as to avoid a catastrophic collision of the different proposed settlements on appeal.
Another ridiculous request by the remaining nine states is the request for Microsoft to be required to release the source code for free to Internet Explorer, and license Microsoft Office to Sun, and an order for Microsoft to use Suns version of Java for 10 years. The above proposed actions are very unlikely to occur, and herein lies Kollar-Kotellys power.
She has the power to basically approve the Microsoft/US DOJ, and the nine states settlement, or simply reject it.
Technically and legally, the DOJ Settlement is seperate, but the Judge can weigh one against the other in her courtroom. One after another Microsoft has had courtroom success against the states, and this may just be another.
California, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Utah and West Virginia--and the District of Columbia--are continuing the litigation. Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New York, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin signed onto the settlement along with the US Justice Department.
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