AGs: 'Focused on the present case' against MS

Attorneys general from Iowa and Connecticut issued a short, sharp statement last week denying they were actively considering a second antitrust suit against Microsoft over the Windows XP operating system.

          Attorneys general from Iowa and Connecticut issued a short, sharp statement last week denying they were actively considering a second antitrust suit against Microsoft over the Windows XP operating system.

          "We have no current plans for a second lawsuit. We are entirely focused on the present case," reads the statement from Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.

          However, the two describe Microsoft's current conduct as "troubling," saying the company's announcements about Windows XP and its Hailstorm initiative to link several services together using the internet "indicate to many of us that Microsoft may be repeating its efforts to maintain and extend its monopoly much more broadly into the internet."

          The Project to Promote Competition in the Digital Age, or ProComp -- a technology industry group backed by Microsoft rivals Sun Microsystems and Oracle -- brought armfuls of documentation to the state attorneys general at their annual Vermont retreat hoping to convince them to sue Microsoft again.

          Microsoft, various attorneys general and the US Department of Justice await a ruling from the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on the decision of a lower court to break up the company. If the appeals court chooses to send the matter back to a lower court for hearings, "these are matters that we may well be able to bring to the judge's attention," said the two attorneys general.

          "We would never completely rule out a new suit, but our focus now is on the antitrust case that already is before the Courts."

          US District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson in June of last year ordered the breakup of Microsoft into two separate companies, with one focused on operating systems and the other on software applications. The DOJ and 17 of 19 state attorneys general that are plaintiffs in the case had recommended that ruling. Jackson further ordered a variety of behavioral remedies meant to curb, according to the government allegations, Microsoft's illegal use of its operating system monopoly to further its dominance in IT. The breakup and remedies were are "stayed" while the appeals process continues.

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