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Could judge's ‘free OEMs’ suggestion herald MS trial deal?

Reports point to the kind of settlement that might be made

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MS on Trial It now seems certain that the Microsoft trial will not restart before Monday 1 June. When we visited Judge Jackson's drugs trial recently, witnesses were being questioned interminably. The public area of the courtroom (not the one used for the Microsoft trial) was separated from the court by a bullet-proof glass screen, which was reassuring when a handgun was produced, but evidently it was an exhibit. Judge Jackson seemed in good humour, although perhaps a trifle bored. We can positively confirm that the judge is a white man, which may be of interest to UK mags Computer Weekly and Computing, which have both carried photographs of a black judge misidentified as Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson. A few details have leaked out about contacts between Microsoft and the DoJ since the trial recessed on 26 February. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the first meeting was on 24 February, and another on 30 March. The report suggests that the judge asked the lawyers why PC makers and consumers couldn't choose the software they wanted. Microsoft realised that this implied that the judge thought it had improperly bundled products, but probably wasn't going to carve the company up. Another meeting will probably take place just before the resumption. Three suggestions for a deal are believed to have been discussed at the March meeting: no exclusive contracts; no interference by Microsoft with the software loaded by the PC maker; and greater disclosure of Windows APIs. The report also suggests that the DoJ wants it to be possible for rival technology to co-exist, with some disclosure of the interfaces, as happened in the old IBM case. The WSJ appears to want a settlement, since it is suggesting without evidence that it was in both parties' interests to settle. This is not true: it is for the DoJ to get a remedy that will solve the problems that have arisen, and whether this is obtained by court order or through a tough consent decree is immaterial. ® Complete Register trial coverage

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