January 28, 2009 / 7:51 PM / 11 years ago

Microsoft antitrust hearing unusually friendly

WASHINGTON, Jan 28 (Reuters) - A hearing to determine if Microsoft (MSFT.O) was complying with a 2002 antitrust settlement was unusually friendly on Wednesday, but states leading the legal charge declined to say if they would ask for oversight to be extended past November.

At the hearing, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia reviewed progress in several areas, remarking at one point, “That’s good news.”

Stephen Houck, who represents a group of plaintiff states, was unusually complimentary, saying Microsoft was “working hard” to resolve outstanding issues and saying they were “thinking very hard” about whether they would ask for extended oversight.

Kollar-Kotelly has previously said she wanted to see court oversight of Microsoft end on schedule on Nov. 12, 2009.

The judge also expressed concern that Microsoft’s decision to cut up to 5,000 jobs could affect progress in producing the technical documents required for software makers to write applications for the Windows operating system.

Microsoft’s chief technical person involved in the case, Bob Muglia, reassured her, saying that “in no way will any change in staffing” affect progress. “I’ve said before this was our highest priority and will remain so,” he told the court.

The hearing on Wednesday was to review Microsoft’s compliance with the pact that settled findings the company had abused its dominance in personal computer operating systems.

The 2002 consent decree covers the company’s ties to computer makers, how its software works with other types of software and enforcement to ensure it does not repeat past practices.

Microsoft was required to issue licenses for companies which want to write programs for the Windows operating system, and provide technical information about Windows to help make the programs work.

The next hearing is set for April 22. (Reporting by Diane Bartz, editing by Matthew Lewis)

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