Microsoft sees Judge, looks busy

DoJ likes licensing extension

Microsoft has offered to extend the duration of its protocol licenses for an extra two years. The licensing program, MCPP, was set up two years ago as a requirement of the anti-trust settlement, and a license lasts for five years. Redmond lawyers made what is being described as a 'concession' at a remedy hearing in a DC court today. MCPP licenses expire in 2007, but the offer takes that through to November 2009, by which time some version of Longhorn may or may not have appeared.

But this might not be what Judge Konsonant Kollision (don't you mean Colleen Kollar-Kotelly - ed.) has been looking for. CKK has expressed some dissatisfaction at the slow progress of the MCPP procedure, and rather than offering to speed things up, Microsoft has given itself more time to address complaints.

The MCPP program covers over 20 protocols, or families of protocols. The computer industry hasn't exactly been beating a path to the door, however. Sun Microsystems and Time Warner (AOL) are the largest of just 14 licensees, and of these, Network Appliance was already a licensee when the MCPP program wasintroduced.

There's no Justice - Just Us

It's up to plaintiffs (the individual States plus the US Department of Justice) to decide whether the concession is good enough. And the DoJ expressed contentment at the offer. In November 2002, the Department of Justice's chief antitrust enforcer Charles James resigned to join an oil company, saying that it isn't the job of the Antitrust Department to er, enforce Antitrust settlements. In fact, it's the job of monopolists themselves to do that. In February Microsoft's associate general counsel Richard J Wallis accepted the job of chairman of the American Bar Association's anti-trust section.

Fresh-faced MBA graduates here tend to look down on the Eastern way of doing business. Over there, they say, gigantic uncompetitive cartels have an incestuous relationship with government, leading to corruption at all levels. And there's plenty of evidence to back this up, from Korea's collapsing freeways to Japan's endless bribery scandals. But how different is it here, really? Probably only in the amount of self-deception involved. ®

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