MS judge signals she may want changes in antitrust deal

Big ones? Little ones? She didn't mention...

Microsoft antitrust judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly may be on the point of kicking over the whole proposed Microsoft-DoJ settlement. And who knows, it might even be deliberate. Yesterday she issued an order instructing the dissenting states and Microsoft to be ready to answer questions about how their proposals could be modified, if necessary.

What this suggests rather depends on the angle you're looking from. From the point of view of Microsoft the settlement it and the DoJ are proposing could indeed be modified, but we've seen such modifications before, and it seems inescapable that the only changes that would be acceptable to Microsoft are minor clarifications that go nowhere towards satisfying the objectors.

The objectors, in the shape of the dissenting states, propose alternatives which in Microsoft's eyes are savage and disruptive, and which would kill the company, force the withdrawal of Windows... and then we get into that whole plague of boils, collapse of capitalism, end of the world stuff again. You know the form.

Basically, the two sides are proposing things so wildly different that it's really not possible to see them agreeing without Judge CKK using a very big stick indeed on one or both of them. She could maybe get a deal by largely rejecting one or the other then demanding some mods in the proposals remaining standing, but it all rather depends on how much of each side's case she likes or dislikes. Sometimes we pine for Judge Jackson's wisecracks.

She is however hearing closing arguments today, and proceedings may give us some indication of her inclinations. Or not. ®

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