US District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly has accepted most of the terms of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) proposed settlement with Microsoft, paving the way for an end to the software giant's legal problems with the US government.
"The court is satisfied that the parties have reached a settlement which comports with the public interest," Kollar-Kotelly wrote in her decision. The judge rejected concerns by the non-settling states that the proposed settlement--which will last five years, or longer if extended by the court--was too lenient. However, she did request that Microsoft disclose some technical information more quickly than the company previously promised.
Microsoft said it was reviewing the decision. "The issues in this case are significant, not only for Microsoft but for the industry and consumers," a company spokesperson said. "We are committed to resolving these issues in a constructive way so that we can focus on long-term growth and innovation for consumers."
Microsoft's epic antitrust battle began in 1998 when the US government sued the company for unfairly stifling competition in the computer industry; numerous states later joined the suit as well. The company was found guilty of sweeping antitrust violations and ordered broken up in 2000. However, on appeal, the breakup decision was thrown out by the US District Court for the District of Columbia and the case was handed to Kollar-Kotelly. Microsoft and the DOJ reached a tentative settlement in November 2001, though 13 states and the District of Columbia fought for more stringent remedies against the company, and even the US Congress complained about the leniency of the settlement. That settlement was largely accepted today by Kollar-Kotelly.