US District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly has extended the Microsoft consent decree timeframe from November 12, 2007 to January 31, 2008 so that she has enough time to consider the argument of the various US states involved in the case. These states are asking the judge to extend the antitrust oversight of Microsoft another five years, to 2012. They now have until November 16 to file additional responses.

Additionally, Kollar-Kotelly gave Microsoft another week, until November 6, to prepare its response to this request. Microsoft has publicly stated that the oversight has run its course and does not need to be extended.

Kollar-Kotelly is considering two sets of requests, one from Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, and New York, and another from the so-called California Group, which includes the District of Columbia as well as the states of California, Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts and Minnesota. These states believe that Microsoft will continue abusing its market power if oversight of its business operations ceases in November as planned.

Microsoft was found guilty of sweeping antitrust abuses in 2001 and settled with the US government and 17 US states in 2002. Its consent decree, which included five years of oversight, would have expired November 12.

While Kollar-Kotelly has previously hinted that she was not interested in extending oversight of Microsoft, this week's decision suggests she is at least open to the possibility. The judge could simply have dismissed the requests without considering them, but will now take up to an additional two months to consider the matter, aided by filings from both sides.