Antitrust: MS is at it again with WinXP, say attorneys

But no new lawsuits...

Two of the state attorneys general who've been involved in the Microsoft antitrust action have damned the company's conduct since the prosecution rested. They specifically focus on what the company's up to with XP but stress that they're not planning a second antitrust suit.

In which case one wonders what the point of the statement they issued yesterday was. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Tom Miller of Iowa described Microsoft's XP strategy as "troubling" and said that once again the company was using its power to foreclose competition on the OS. Microsoft has certainly cranked up the level of bundling/integration in WinXP, and as the .NET strategy begins to bite more and more roads are going to be leading to Redmond; but where, precisely, does the Blumethal/Miller outburst get us?

With the exception of a couple of late exhibits the antitrust case against Microsoft essentially left off in the late 90s, having dealt largely with the Win95/98 period, IE integration, competition with Netscape and OEM bundling deals. Microsoft got up to plenty after this period, and has been up to plenty more since Judge Jackson put his black cap on.

But bitching about what's gone on since has no relevance to the trial or the appeals process; it would only have a point if the attorneys general were planning a second suit based on this new string of offences, and they say they're definitely not planning anything of the sort.

The appeals court is expected to hand down its verdict any time now, and the indicators are that it's likely to spring Microsoft from much, if not all, of the bad stuff. It still won't be over at that point of course, and launching a new suit when you hadn't finished with the last one would be just plain silly. But maybe messrs Blumenthal and Miller have scented the possibility of a post appeals court verdict deal, and have launched a pre-emptive strike? ®

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