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Prosecutors: Vista Apparently Complies With Microsoft Antitrust Judgment

In a joint status report filed Tuesday with the U.S. District Court, prosecutors said Microsoft's Vista and Internet Explorer plans appear to be compliant with the 2002 antitrust judgment against the company.

U.S. prosecutors say Windows Vista and the latest version of Internet Explorer apparently comply with the requirements of the 2002 antitrust judgment against Microsoft.

In a joint status report filed Tuesday with the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., prosecutors said Microsoft appeared to be complying with the judgment, which found Microsoft abused its Windows monopoly and set down rules for the software maker to follow to avoid future anti-competitive behavior. Prosecutors and Microsoft have been submitting joint reports on compliance to the court every six months.

The Justice Department and a court-approved technical committee are monitoring the development of Vista to assure compliance with the court order. The monitoring includes extensive testing of Vista and Internet Explorer 7 betas.

The committee and Microsoft developed a bug-tracking system to help ensure that Vista ships without any "known issues related to its treatment of middleware under the final judgments," prosecutors said in the report.

"Plaintiffs are pleased to report that this system has been a success," prosecutors said. "Microsoft addressed all outstanding middleware-related bug issues prior to Vista being released to manufacturing."

Since issuing the last report May 12, the Justice Department has received 25 third-party complaints, but none of them raised issues related to Microsoft's compliance with the court order, prosecutors said. "Each of the non-substantive complaints received a simple response acknowledging their receipt."

One issue that remained outstanding was Microsoft's continuing effort to improve the technical documentation on certain Windows technology it is required to provide on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms to any other software maker. In the 2002 judgment, Microsoft was found to have taken illegal advantage of its monopoly in desktop operating systems by ensuring its software ran better on Windows than competitors' platforms.

Prosecutors said there were indications that the new documentation "is substantially higher in quality than the prior version."

"In summary, plaintiffs have not yet reached any conclusions about Microsoft's technical documentation rewrite project," prosecutors said. Microsoft, so far, has met its deadlines for providing rewritten documentation to licensees.

The Justice Department has raised concerns with the quality of the technical documentation Microsoft has provided to licensees, and with the length of time it was taking to improve the documentation. The technology in question relates to the protocols used by computer servers to communicate with client PCs running Windows. The interoperability technology covered under the judgment is available for licensing for minimum five-year terms that would run at least through Nov. 11, 2017.

The original antitrust ruling was set to expire next year. However, portions have been extended to Nov. 12, 2009, with the DOJ having the option of requesting an additional three-year extension.

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