As expected, US District Court judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly has extended US monitoring of Microsoft's antitrust compliance by 18 months to May 12, 2011. The extension was sought by the US Department of Justice and the US states that had previously allied against the software giant, and agreed to by Microsoft.

"I will go forward and sign the proposed order," Kollar-Kotelly said during a hearing. "I would agree that we're in a different and much better place \[than the last time such an extension was sought\]. We are finally on the right track."

The extension was sought so that a technical monitor could assess whether the documentation that Microsoft was required to file as part of the antitrust oversight was complete and error-free. This documentation will be given to companies that license technical information needed to interoperate with Microsoft's server products.

Looking ahead, Microsoft faces a status report in July, then a status hearing in August. The oversight is the last lingering effects of the company's 2002 antitrust settlement, and Kollar-Kotelly was clear that the government has no interest in monitoring Microsoft forever. "Windows was not intended to be subject to final judgments in perpetuity," she said. Presumably, after the 2011 deadline ends, Microsoft will be free and clear in the United States.

Of course, Microsoft faces more pressing antitrust problems in Europe, where European Union (EU) regulators are pressing ahead with at least three separate investigations. Microsoft has been fined over $1 billion in Europe for antitrust transgressions, and more sanctions are surely on the way.