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States keep antitrust pressure on Microsoft

Court filing aims for five-year extension

Several US states are requesting a five-year extension of the antitrust judgement against Microsoft to ensure the company's continued compliance, according to a court filing this week.

Sections of the 2002 antitrust judgement are due to expire next month. A status hearing is scheduled for November 6 with Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the US District Court for the District of Columbia.

In the filing, the states argue that Microsoft could use the continued dominance of its Internet Explorer browser to choke off other emerging middleware technologies from Google and Adobe that work in close conjunction with web browsers.

The filing mentions Google Gears and Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR), technologies that allow for offline use of internet-centric applications.

"Because web-centric technologies are so dependent on web browsers and servers for access to consumers, they are particularly susceptible to impediments that Microsoft could interpose were the final judgment were to expire now," the filing said.

The states contend Microsoft could "tilt the playing field" to favour its new Silverlight multimedia technology, which competes with Adobe's Flash.

The states also argued there have been continued problems with the programme under which Microsoft licenses communication protocols to enable other vendors' products to more smoothly work with ones from Microsoft.

The technical documentation has been inadequate over the last five years, while Microsoft has continued to gain market share with its servers. Microsoft only recently delivered more rewritten documentation that is being evaluated, the filing said.

The document was filed by California, Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.

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