DoJ denies report on MS breakup plan

"It's inaccurate in several important respects and doesn't accurately represent our views," said DoJ spokesperson Gina Talamona. She declined to comment further.

According to the USA Today report, government lawyers have in the past disagreed on which remedy to choose, but have come to agree to request that Microsoft be split into separate companies -- one for its Windows operating system and one for its other software, such as word processing products. The status of Microsoft's considerable Internet assets was not clear, the report said.

The involved parties are currently weighing settlement options, but the DoJ's Talamona would not comment on when the DoJ would make its next announcement in regard to the case.

The DoJ and the 19 states that have joined the lawsuit are accusing Microsoft of using a monopoly position in the market for PC operating systems to quash competition and move into other markets. Microsoft vehemently denies the accusation and says that competition is thriving.

In November, US District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson issued a "finding of facts" that found that Microsoft is a monopoly in the operating system market. Jackson's finding of facts is not a verdict, but is considered by legal experts to indicate how the judge is likely to rule in the final outcome of the case.

Jackson has invited both sides to issue briefs and present oral arguments on how the law should be applied in the case, before he comes to a final verdict.

In December, the government issued a written brief arguing that Microsoft violated the Sherman Act, the basis of the nation's antitrust laws. Microsoft is due to file a counter-brief on January 17, then both sides will get an opportunity to oral arguments before the judge on February 22, prior to the judge's verdict in the case.

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Rebecca Sykes

PC World

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