Microsoft happy with result of antitrust case

IT behemoth agrees to anti-bullying regulations but celebrates new settlement

After five years, the US Department of Justice, Microsoft, the final nine dissenting states and Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly have come to an agreement. The Microsoft antitrust trial is finally over.

The final amendment gives Judge Kollar-Kotelly more power to assess Microsoft's behaviour without waiting for complaints. She will now be able to order status reports to ensure Microsoft's compliance.

All of the various parties agreed to the final changes before Judge Kollar-Kotelly made her final amendment, which brings to an end the year-long battle over the November 2001 settlement.

The agreed changes ban Microsoft from threatening retaliation to computer manufacturers that choose to feature non-Microsoft software, while the original settlement simply banned the retaliation itself.

The judge also imposed restrictions on the Windows start-up sequence and reworded the part of the settlement that stops Microsoft from limiting customers' choice of internet service provider.

The settlement has been seen as a victory for Microsoft. The November 2001 settlement was agreed by nine states but rejected by another nine, which have now agreed after fighting all year for stronger sanctions.

Judge Kollar-Kotelly said that she accepted the states' arguments but added that the restrictions proposed by them went beyond the power of the law.

The settlement gives computer manufacturers more freedom to feature rival software. Microsoft has been forced to appoint three external experts to a newly-created in-house Antitrust Compliance Committee.