updated 10:55 am EST, Wed January 30, 2008
MS Antitrust Until 2009
The US Department of Justice yesterday extended its 2002 sanctions against Microsoft, forcing the software developer to abide by rulings made in a consent decree until November 2009 instead of the original December 2007 timeframe. The decision comes after Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who presided over most of the 2002 case, determined that Microsoft had not adequately published enough documentation for its software programming interface to resolve the original complaints of an unfair advantage over competitors in developing Windows software.
The necessary action is being taken after a move to extend just the documentation section of the decree earlier in January was not deemed sufficient enough action by several US states. Without a general extension, Microsoft would let firms develop software only to punish them afterwards by discouraging reselllers from carrying the resulting products, the states argue.
While the ruling will keep the antitrust decision in place for most of Windows Vista's active lifespan, the extension falls short of attorney general requests from some states which had asked for as many as five additional years to ensure the antitrust regulations had their proper effect. Government filings had first suggested that the Department of Justice might not issue any extension at all given the existence of added competition for Microsoft's software since 2002, such as Mozilla's Firefox browser.
The extra sanctions on top of the documentation request are not meant as retaliation against Microsoft and so do not need as broad an extension as the attorneys general have requested, Judge Kollar-Kotelly explains in her decision.