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Japan's FTC decides not to bust Microsoft

These day, champagne corks pop whenever somebody doesn't sue...

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Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith has hailed the end of a Japanese investigation of the company as a victory, and in a piece of spinmeistering above and beyond the call, has claimed that as antitrust laws are tougher in Japan than in the US, Microsoft is particularly pleased by the decision. No doubt it's good news for Microsoft whenever somebody decides not to sue it, but the truth of the Japanese matter is that Japan's Fair Trade Commission found against Microsoft on two counts, but decided not to pursue a third matter, allegations that Microsoft was competing unfairly with Netscape. The FTC issued a warning to Microsoft about the wording of some of its ISP contracts. Microsoft says these are no longer in effect - they were modified when Microsoft started to blunt its ISP contracts world-wide at the beginning of this year. Microsoft was also warned about Excel licensing, and says it has accepted this. Smith, heroically, seems to see this as the tide turning, saying the Koreans have backed off as well, and that now questions from the European Commission and Israel are also close to resolution. One of the Brussels issues (because there are actually several) relates to those pesky ISP contracts - even the changed wording is a source of some contention. ® Complete Register trial coverage

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