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DOJ Won't Seek Microsoft Break-Up

AppsCo and OpsCo are now a footnote. The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday gave Microsoft official notice that it would not seek a Microsoft break-up in the renewed remedy phase of the antitrust case.

The announcement came in a mixed bag from the Justice Department as the government and Microsoft work together on a joint status report to present to the District Court due Sept. 14.

The Justice Department also will not pursue a District Court rehearing of the tying issue, in which the government alleged that Microsoft illegally tied its browser to the Windows operating system in order to protect and extend its monopoly.

But government lawyers were hardly rolling over.

"In view of the Court of Appeals' unanimous decision that Microsoft illegally maintained its monopoly over PC-based operating systems -- the core allegation in the case -- the Department believes that it has established a basis for relief that would end Microsoft's unlawful conduct, prevent its recurrence and open the operating system market to competition," the Department of Justice wrote in a statement.

The final paragraph of the Justice Department's statement contained the biggest bombshell. "The Department will ask the court for a period of expedited discovery to investigate developments in the industry since the trial concluded," the government wrote. If the court grants approval, the move would open the case to Windows XP.

The states Attorneys General are going along with federal antitrust lawyers.

"Since the Court of Appeals decision, the States and the DOJ have directed their effort to one objective -- the quickest and most effective remedy possible. This decision is consistent with that objective," Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said in a statement. Miller leads the 18-state Microsoft Working Group.

Microsoft gave little hint how it was reacting to the government's mixed message.

"We remain committed to resolving the remaining issues in this case. Period," Microsoft spokesman Jim Dessler said.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.