Judge puts stop to more 'Vista Capable' insider e-mails

Suspends lawsuit while appeal is considered

The list of 29 individuals and companies that were told to produce documents read like a Who's Who of the Windows economy, and included retailers such as Amazon.com, Best Buy and Wal-Mart Stores; computer makers like Acer America, Dell and Hewlett-Packard; chip-maker Intel; market research firms Gartner and The NDP Group; and Jim Alchin, the former head of Windows development who resigned the day after Vista shipped in January 2007.

Several of these companies filed objections, which Microsoft included in a counter-rebuttal submitted to Pechman two weeks ago, and argued that they should not have to abide by the orders or that the deadlines were too pressing. Some specifically noted that they feared the documents would be released to the public.

Circuit City Stores Inc., for example, called the discovery requests "overbroad, unduly burdensome, oppressive, and harassing," and would disrupt its business. Office Deport Inc., meanwhile said that the demands sought "information and documents not meant for public disclosure and certainly not meant for disclosure to Office Depot's direct competitors," clearly referring to Microsoft being forced to air its laundry in public and to the fact that among the other subpoenaed retailers were Office Max, Fry's, Best Buy, Circuit City, Costco and Wal-Mart.

Amazon.com objected on the grounds that the documents could be obtained from others. "They may be available from the Microsoft in the above-entitled action, or from other third parties (such as OEMs and/or retailers) more readily than from Amazon," its objection read.

It's not known how long the lawsuit may be delayed if the Ninth Circuit rejects Microsoft's appeal, though the US-based developer said last month it expected the decision to accept or reject the appeal to take 90 days. If the court accepts the appeal, the case could be on hold indefinitely. Earlier, Pechman had set an October trial date, but in her stay of last week, she also ditched the schedule.

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Gregg Keizer

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