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The US votes on MS-DoJ deal: 15,000 against, 7,500 for

Gruesome twosome says they might take another look at it...

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Microsoft and the DoJ have taken the judge's hint and confirmed that they'll consider changes to the proposed antitrust settlement, following public comment received on it. This seems to have resulted in a straight two to one win for the opposers - 15,000 comments agin, 7,500 for.

Apparently another 7,000 or thereabouts were junked as opinion, along the lines of "I hate Microsoft." Still some kind of barometer of the public mood though, we'd say.

Judge Coleen Kollar-Kottely had earlier taken the unusual step of asking the parties to report whether they were likely to be making changes in the settlement in light of the public comments received. Her job now is to decide on appropriate remedies, and while she has the authority to just sign off the MS-DoJ deal, she also has the authority to sling it, and impose whatever she might think more appropriate.

So her apparent interest in matching the deal to the comment is significant, and given the way that comment has split (even if we charitably presume that no attempted ballot-stuffing by noted historical gerrymanderers has occurred), it's also significant that the unholy alliance has opted to retire to its tents to consider its options.

They now have to gamble. The current deal is just about the maximum Microsoft would accept, and the minimum the DoJ thought it could get away with. Both parties may now be calculating that while it's something the two of them can live with, it's not actually going to play with the public or the judges. So they may have to return to the negotiating table, although this time they'll be on the same side trying to second-guess the bare minimum they can both get away with.

That said, they still have a fair bit of latitude. During the settlement talks it was clear Microsoft wasn't going to go significantly further than the deal that was actually arrived at. However, from Microsoft's perspective the remedies proposed by the holdout States (open source IE, license Office) would be infinitely worse, so it has the motivation to move quite a bit further, if necessary.

Related links:
Back Microsoft and win an iPaq
Open source IE, license MSOffice, says rebel States' pitch

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