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Microsoft Antitrust Pot Simmers

Microsoft's recent moves to release portions of its Windows server source code to competitors has struck a chord with the U.S. Department of Justice and the states who participated in its landmark antitrust trial.

In a joint filing this week, the justice department and the states said they found Microsoft's latest moves adequate to assure that competitors' software will be able to work with its server software. The harshest language was in the document's lack of superlatives.

"In Plaintiffs' view, Microsoft's agreement to license its source code is a constructive proposal that addresses many of Plaintiffs' concerns with the technical documentation," the filing said in part. "Although Plaintiffs have not concluded their evaluation of the proposed terms, Plaintiffs believe that Microsoft's draft could make it possible for licensees to use the source code without undue fear of additional intellectual property liability."

That doesn't carry much water with the European Commission, however.

Although Microsoft proposed licensing source code and protocols to European vendors last month, the Wall Street Journal and other news services, reported that the company had already been warned by the EC that simply releasing source code would not meet the EC's requirements.

Additionally, a monitor appointed to track Microsoft's progress for the EC reported that Microsoft's releases of "documentation" did not provide adequate and clear information on how competitors can make their products work with Microsoft's servers.

In fact, Reuters is reporting that the EC -- which has rejected Microsoft's moves as too little too late and has threatened to start levying fines of as much as 2 million euros [$2.4 million] per day as of Feb. 15 -- turned down the company's latest request for another extension to comply.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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