Six US states now investigating Microsoft business practices

A sixth US state has joined anti-trust investigations of Microsoft's business practices. Connecticut's Attorney General has confirmed that his office is investigating the actions of the software giant. Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said the investigation, which started within the last month, was spurred by complaints from both businesses and consumers 'about the possible monopolisation of markets or attempts to monopolise markets' by Microsoft. The attorneys general of Massachusetts, Texas, New York, California and Minnesota have already begun investigations.

A sixth US state has joined anti-trust investigations of Microsoft's business practices. Connecticut's Attorney General has confirmed that his office is investigating the actions of the software giant.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said the investigation, which started within the last month, was spurred by complaints from both businesses and consumers "about the possible monopolisation of markets or attempts to monopolise markets" by Microsoft.

Besides Connecticut, New York, California and Minnesota also have joined the investigation into the Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft, according to published reports, bringing to six the list of attorneys general pursuing the probe. Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger and Texas Attorney General Dan Morales kicked off the state investigations late last year.

"We know that Microsoft has a high degree of dominance in operating systems software and we've received allegations that it's thinking to use that dominance to leverage itself into ancillary software applications such as the Internet (Explorer) browser and enhance its position in that market as well," Blumenthal said.

A spokeswoman for Minnesota Attorney General Hubert Humphrey III and a spokesman for California Attorney General Daniel Lundgren said those offices have a policy of neither confirming nor denying ongoing investigations.

"We can only comment on pending legal action and we do not have any pending legal action against Microsoft," said Matt Ross, the California spokesman.

However, investigations occur before legal action is taken by state attorneys general.

A call requesting comment from New York Attorney General Dennis Vacco was not returned. Microsoft also did not return a telephone message left for comment.

It hasn't been a good week for Microsoft so far. Archrival Sun Microsystems Inc. announced today that it is suing Microsoft for failing to comply with its Java licensing agreement.

Meanwhile, well-known U.S. consumer advocate Ralph Nader announced yesterday that his organisation, Essential Information, is hosting a two-day conference next month to explore Microsoft's business practices.

That conference will have a decidedly anti-Microsoft orientation with scheduled participants including Scott McNealy, CEO of Sun Microsystems, and attorney Gary Reback, who has sued Microsoft on behalf of Netscape Communications Corp. and others.

Microsoft CEO Bill Gates has been invited by Nader to speak at the gathering. In a letter to Gates last week, Nader said he decided to have the conference because he kept hearing about "the fear of speaking out (against Microsoft) by thoughtful people in the business world who otherwise have the position, energy and the resources to do so."

Microsoft also is being investigated by the US Department of Justice, which is reviewing the company's acquisitions in the area of video streaming and its recent investment in Apple Computer.

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