Microsoft to stay under court's eye for two more years

Microsoft's compliance with a US antitrust settlement will remain under court supervision for another two years

Microsoft's compliance with a US antitrust settlement will remain under court supervision for another two years, in part because the company delayed producing documentation required by the court, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia extended the court's supervision through Nov. 12, 2009, writing that the 2002 settlement had not fully taken effect. Several US states involved in the case had sought a five-year extension, despite opposition from the Department of Justice.

As part of the settlement, Microsoft is required to document information on communication protocols, making it easier for other software manufacturers to create products that work well with the Windows OS.

The documentation has been a sticking point between the company and the government. Microsoft has been ordered to rewrite the documentation, which was supposed to have been complete by February 2003, to make it clearer.

In her ruling, Kollar-Kotelly blamed Microsoft. "Although the technical documentation project is complex and novel, it is clear, at least to the Court, that Microsoft is culpable for this inexcusable delay," she wrote.

But she also wrote that the company had been "overwhelmingly cooperative" in the years after the antitrust settlement, and that this latest extension should not be viewed as a sanction.

Microsoft will continue to comply with the antitrust ruling and has built its latest operating system, Vista, to comply with the rules, the company said.

"We are gratified that the court recognized our extensive efforts to work cooperatively with the large number of government agencies involved," said Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel and senior vice president.

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