Microsoft, DOJ Reach Agreement

Updated Lawyers from Microsoft and the Justice Department ironed out a 26 page document that outlines restrictions on the software giant’s behavior. US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly has given 18 states until Tuesday to approve the agreement.

On Wednesday sources close to the talks revealed that a tentative agreement had been worked out between Microsoft and the Justice Department. Legal wrangling remains under way over the precise language of the settlement – an agreement which the state attorneys generals have not committed to as of yet. Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who recently began presiding over the trial, has given both parties until Friday to reach an accord. Representatives from both sides are working around the clock to satisfy the deadline.

Microsoft has indicated in the past that it will not accept any deal which limits its ability to extend or modify its operating systems as it sees fit. The highly controversial release of Windows XP aggressively ties the company's online Web services with its desktop software, but its release was not blocked by the government.

Reports by the Associated Press indicate that the government will permit Microsoft to continue development of Windows unfettered, provided that it provide a "light" version of its operating system without all of the bells and whistles. Other areas of interest include prohibiting the company from entering into restrictive contracts with OEM partners while preserving cross marketing campaigns that offer consumers discounts and other incentives.

While widely known for jealously guarding the secrets of its source code -- the building blocks behind Windows -- Microsoft may be obligated to reveal certain portions relevant to its Internet Explorer Web browser. However, the vast majority of the Windows code will remain under lock and key.

Microsoft spokesperson Jim Desler told BetaNews that the company would not comment on any aspect of ongoing confidential discussions. He maintained the company mantra that moving forward to reach a settlement was good for consumers and good for the US economy.

The terms of the settlement have come as a disappointment to many leading industry and consumer groups. The Computer & Communications Industry Association issued a strongly worded press release entitled, "Settlement or Sellout" that outlined key elements of the rumored agreement that it felt were severely watered down.

"To say we are troubled by the published accounts indicating that the Justice Department is selling out consumers, competition and innovation would be an understatement," said Ed Black, CCIA President & CEO.

He continued on, "Microsoft has been declared an illegal monopolist by nine Federal judges, including one who determined it was necessary to break up the company. They should be held accountable for their unlawful actions, and prevented from further abusing their monopoly position."

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