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October 19, 2007

More states call for extension of antitrust oversight of Microsoft

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano at 1:21 PM

New York, Maryland, Louisiana and Florida have joined the California group of states in calling for an extension of judicial oversight of Microsoft.

In a motion filed Thursday in the court overseeing the landmark antitrust settlement, the states write:

An extension is appropriate to assure that marketplace participants have sufficient opportunity to establish positions to compete against Microsoft, an entrenched monopolist. Indeed, experience since entry of the Court's decree in 2002 refutes the central assumption that supported departure from the 10-year term typical of antitrust remedial decrees -- that the industry section was characterized by rapid change. Just the opposite: Microsoft's Windows monopoly is indisputably resilient.

The motion for an extension by New York, Maryland, Louisiana and Florida is notable because they agreed with the Department of Justice's assessment in August that the consent decree had been successful. Thursday's filing (PDF, 9 pages) addresses that point, noting that in the August review, the New York group wrote "that the Final Judgments have begun to foster competitive conditions among middleware products, and more generally in the delivery of web-based applications and services. ... However, the process envisioned by the Final Judgments is far from complete. The inescapable fact remains that, at the client operating system level, Microsoft has a 90%+ market share."

Thursday's filing also provides a score card of sorts on where each of the states stands on extension of judicial oversight.

Of the 17 states plus the District of Columbia, 11 support extension; three have no objection to an extension; three have not taken a position on the matter; and one, Wisconsin, does not join the motion for extension.

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