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VNU Net: Microsoft antitrust verdict due tomorrow

Mar 27, 2000, 14:55 (7 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by John Geralds)

By John Geralds, VNU Net

Efforts to reach an out-of-court settlement in the Microsoft antitrust lawsuit intensified on Friday after the judge said he intends to deliver a verdict on Tuesday.

Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson has already ruled that the software giant has a monopoly in the PC operating system market and analysts expect him to judge that the company illegally abused that monopoly.

Although Microsoft and the US Department of Justice (DoJ) have both vowed not to comment publicly about any settlement talks, US reports claim that Microsoft has now agreed to separate its Windows operating system from its Internet Explorer (IE) browser. The offer was not confirmed, however.

The link between Windows and IE has been a focal point of the DoJ case against Microsoft because it is illegal in the US for companies to force customers of one product to buy a second one.

The DoJ alleges that Microsoft forced PC makers into this type of "tying" to destroy Netscape Communciations, which provides a rival browser to IE.

Microsoft argued that Windows and IE were always conceived of as one product and so the claim is irrelevant.

However, it is unclear how the DoJ will react to Microsoft's reported offer, particularly after Netscape's acquisition by America Online.

Some industry watchers believe that the US government body wants restrictions to be imposed on what new features or technologies Microsoft can add to Windows. But the consensus among analysts is that the DoJ has given up on efforts to break up the software giant and instead will agree to severe restrictions being placed on the way it does business.

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