Microsoft and PC maker Gateway have resolved their legal dispute and will now work together to promote Gateway's personal computing products, the companies announced today. To resolve the dispute, which arose out of the US antitrust case against the software giant, Microsoft will pay Gateway $150 million over 4 years. And Gateway will halt all its antitrust-related legal claims against Microsoft.
  
"Our relationships with PC manufacturers are integral to our success, and we look forward to working even more closely with Gateway to communicate the benefits of its products and our software to consumers," Rodrigo Costa, Microsoft's OEM corporate vice president, said. "We are very pleased to be able to resolve our past differences in a constructive manner that will allow us to continue our focus on the interests of our mutual customers."
  
According to the companies, the money Microsoft pays to Gateway will fund marketing initiatives such as advertising, sales training, and consulting, as well as fund the development and testing of Microsoft's next-generation OSs and productivity software. Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, you might recall, found that Microsoft's business practices specifically harmed Gateway during the 1990s. As part of the agreement, Microsoft continues to deny any liability to Gateway or its business.
  
My lingering bitterness over the US antitrust ruling notwithstanding, it's nice to see Microsoft standing by the companies that distribute its software, especially one as battle-damaged as Gateway. Here's a little bit of positive news in all this: Gateway's case against Microsoft would have expired in March 2003 under statute-of-limitations guidelines. Microsoft agreed to extend that time period, however, so that the two companies could reach a mutually beneficial agreement.