Microsoft Lags on Antitrust Compliance

WASHINGTON -- About 350 problems with Microsoft's technical documentation remained at the end of September, after a judge ordered the software company to share its proprietary communications protocols as part of an antitrust settlement in late 2002, according to a status report released last week.

A technical committee assigned to work with Microsoft has identified 550 problems with the protocols' technical documentation since a new documentation project began in March, according to the report. The procedure is part of U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly's ongoing monitoring of Microsoft. Kollar-Kotelly approved an antitrust settlement between U.S. Department of Justice and Microsoft in November 2002.

Microsoft was required to share its communication protocols with other software vendors as part of Kollar-Kotelly's wide-ranging settlement in the lengthy antitrust case. To date, 23 companies have licensed Microsoft's protocols, with no additional licensees since June. Twelve of those licensees are shipping products using Microsoft's protocols, an increase of three companies since then.

Periodic Reviews

The technical committee and Microsoft have established service-level goals for fixing the technical documentation, and Microsoft has met those goals 100 percent of the time since the goals were established in mid-July, the report said. Under the goals, Microsoft has agreed to fix high-priority problems within seven days, medium-priority problems within 17 days and low-priority problems 32 days.

About four-fifths of the problems remaining at the end of September were classified as medium priority, with most of the remaining 350 problems in various stages of research by Microsoft or the technical committee, according to the report.

The technical committee expects this documentation project to be completed by July.

In another example of the increased scrutiny Microsoft undergoes because of the antitrust settlement, the company last week revised its licensing policy for Windows Music Player. Microsoft initially tried to require exclusive agreements, so hardware vendors that licensed its software could offer only the Windows player on their systems.

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