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Judge sits on Microsoft for two more years

Extends terms of anti-trust decree to late 2009

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Microsoft has failed in its bid to prevent the US government monitoring its business dealings, after a federal judge yesterday extended an antitrust consent decree by two years.

Washington district judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said that the extension to 12 November 2009, which will mark two years after its original expiration date, was required because Redmond had failed to file technical documents that should have been disclosed to its competitors.

The judge came out in favour of a group of ten states that successfully argued other software firms had little chance of promoting competition because they had been squeezed out by Microsoft's failure to provide information about communication links to its rivals.

The states, which included California and New York, had pushed for the US government to extend the decree to 2012.

However, according to Reuters Kollar-Kotelly stopped short of backing a five-year extension.

A landmark US anti-trust case against Microsoft was settled under the consent decree in 2002 after it was found to have guarded its monopoly over its Windows operating system.

The decree laid out compliance terms for the firm which included transparency in its relationship to computer vendors as well as how its software works with other apps and platforms.

The group of states argued that the decree's expiration would lead to Microsoft continuing to have a dominant stranglehold over the software industry, arguing that its business practices were aggressively monopolistic and anti-competitive.

Kollar-Kotelly said that the extension did not represent a sanction against Redmond, but that it simply allowed more time for the firm to get its house in order so the settlement could be satisfactorily achieved, reports Reuters.

She also added that a framework was in place for a possible further extension beyond 2009.

Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith said in a statement: "We will continue to comply fully with the consent decree.

"We built Windows Vista in compliance with these rules, and we will continue to adhere to the decree's requirements." ®

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