Welcome to the Department of Justice, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller

For immediate release - Friday, December 7, 2001. Contact Bob Brammer - 515-281-6699.

States Propose Remedies to Curb Microsoft's Illegal Business Practices

DES MOINES. Nine states including Iowa, and the District of Columbia today filed with the federal court in Washington, D.C., proposed remedies to curb Microsoft's illegal use of its monopoly power. In June, a unanimous Court of Appeals determined that Microsoft broke the law, and now the issue before the District Court is what is the appropriate remedy for the company's illegal acts.

"We are proposing remedies that are strong but fair," said Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller.

"The remedies have been crafted to relate closely to the Court of Appeals Decision," he said. "They would achieve the objectives set forth by the Appeals Court, namely, to prohibit Microsoft's illegal conduct and prevent similar acts in the future, to spark fair competition, and to take away some of the illegal gains achieved by Microsoft. These remedies also contain a compliance mechanism that can work effectively, efficiently, and fairly."

The proposed remedies are designed to end Microsoft's stranglehold on innovation and competition in the personal computer industry that the software giant has perpetuated since it was first found guilty of being an illegal monopoly. Iowa joined California, Massachusetts, Florida, Connecticut, Utah, Kansas, West Virginia, Minnesota, and the District of Columbia in pursuing strong, enforceable remedies.

The remedies submitted Friday by the states have some similarities to those already before the court, but also differ in significant aspects. Among the significant differences are:

  • a requirement that Microsoft license an unbundled version of Windows in which middleware and operating system code is not commingled (commingling of code is a practice Microsoft continues to employ in Windows XP although it was specifically held by the Court of Appeals to be illegal);

  • a requirement that Microsoft provide earlier disclosure (before Beta releases) of software interfaces so that competitors who have rival software products that must be compatible with Windows have a fair chance to bring their software products to market at the same time as Microsoft;

  • mandatory disclosure of technical information to others in the industry so that rival hand-held devices, as well as servers, can work with Microsoft's dominant Windows operating system;

  • provisions to assure that Original Equipment Manufacturers and end-user preferences are respected so that consumers have real freedom of choice of products based solely on merits and unbiased by Microsoft;

  • mandatory inclusion of Java as a programming language and a requirement that Office and other Windows applications are compatible with other software platforms so that alternative software platforms have an opportunity to emerge; and

  • an effective enforcement mechanism that uses a Special Master to encourage compliance and minimize the burden on the court, and further provides hefty consequences if Microsoft materially violates the remedies ordered by the Court.

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    For link to Remedy filing (in PDF format) go to WWW.NAAG.ORG.

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