MS/DOJ: Closing Arguments Look to Be Brief

Short closing arguments the order of the day as the DOJ versus Microsoft case draws to a close.

The combatants in the U.S. government's antitrust trial against Microsoft Corp. met this week in court to deliver their closing arguments and wrap up the case that began last October. The government led off, arguing that Microsoft has restricted competition, raised prices without fear and stifled innovation -- all to the detriment of consumers.

In a courtroom packed with press and spectators, Stephen Houck, an antitrust lawyer representing the state of New York attorney general's office, said that Microsoft has maintained a "stranglehold on the market for personal computing operating system software."

Microsoft has monopoly power that "is durable, not transient," Houck added. The U.S. Department of Justice and 19 states are participating in the government's case.

Presiding Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson did not interrupt with many questions, in an apparent effort to let Houck briskly present the government's narrative of events and arguments. The closing arguments were expected to be completed today. Microsoft will present its side this afternoon.

The closing arguments were held in the U.S. District Court ceremonial courtroom, a large room decorated with dozens of portraits of past judges that have served in the court, rather than the smaller, plain courtroom where the trial had taken place earlier.

Testimony ended in June after 76 days of trial, which began October 19 last year. Microsoft has vigorously denied government charges, including allegations that the software giant used its dominance in the PC operating system market to crush competitors.

Last week, in a prelude to today's closing arguments, both sides filed rebuttals to the other side's version of the facts. Each accused the other of distorting the facts in this landmark case.

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