Big Brother Watches Microsoft
The U.S. government will continue to keep a watchful eye on Microsoft. A ruling by U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly extends federal oversight of some of Microsoft’s business practices to November of 2009, with a possibility for it to be maintained well beyond.
Lawyers for the government have described Microsoft’s behavior as “disappointing” and “not very encouraging,” and are prepared to extend government supervision of its business practices into 2012 if necessary.
Judge Kollar-Kotelly also asked the Justice Department to justify its decision in an antitrust investigation over the forthcoming Internet Explorer Web browser software. The Justice Department said it would take no action against Microsoft. At issue was how Internet Explorer would direct users towards Microsoft’s own search engine, despite the overwhelming popularity of Google.
“I couldn’t quite figure out how it got resolved and why it wasn’t a problem,” the judge said. But she seemed to accept the response of Renata Hesse, a Justice Department lawyer, who explained how easy it is for users to redirect their web browsers.
Although Microsoft has run into a number of antitrust issues, government lawyers have said the problems were “neither willful nor systematic.” To resolve the issues, Microsoft is in some instances required to share its technology with competitors so that they can build compatible systems and programs. This ruling, made in 2002, has been a source of many problems for the giant. It came after an investigation by the Justice Department and the attorneys general of 17 states.
Microsoft is faced with a similar court battle overseas, where the European Commission is pressuring the company to make comparable changes and compromises.