US blasts Microsoft on compliance

The DOJ and state attorneys general slammed Microsoft for lagging behind on compliance with stipulations of the DOJ antitrust agreement.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and state attorneys general slammed Microsoft in court papers Monday for lagging behind in compliance with some stipulations of the government's antitrust agreement with the company.

Microsoft "has fallen significantly behind" in submitting technical documentation about its Microsoft Communications Protocol Program (MCPP) to the technical committee that oversees a documentation program for the project, according to a document filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The MCPP, which is found in recent versions of Microsoft's Windows desktop OSes, allows third-party software vendors to make sure their products can communicate natively with products using Microsoft server OS software. Microsoft launched the MCPP to allow third parties to license the protocol from the software company as part of the DOJ's antitrust agreement.

Microsoft submitted an update on its progress Jan. 17 as part of the company's plan to provide monthly status reports, but according to the plaintiff's response, the company has not addressed the "seriousness of the situation."

"In a substantial majority of cases Microsoft is no longer meeting the service level guidelines established to measure the timeliness of its initial response to technical documentation issues submitted by the TC," according to the court document. "This reflects a substantial change from before the last Joint Status Report, when Microsoft was meeting the [service level guidelines] 100 percent of the time."

Microsoft also provided inaccurate information for the technical committee's installation of testing hardware in appointed test labs in India, according to the plaintiffs. This resulted in both Microsoft and the technical team having to do more work to install test equipment, and may mean that the hardware installation was less than successful, according to the court filing.

The plaintiffs said they should have a better picture of whether the "improvised" hardware installation in India is in correct working order by the time of the next status report. If the installation was not successful, the technical committee's work likely will go past its original deadline, according to the court document.

A Microsoft spokesman said Tuesday that Microsoft is aware that there are issues that need to be resolved to meet compliance with the technical committee and is "working hard" to resolve them.

Microsoft is committed "to expend whatever resources are necessary to address these issues, including hiring as many qualified people as we can find to accomplish these highly specialized tasks," said Jack Evans, a Microsoft spokesman.

He added that the protocols currently being documented by the technical committee are available to the industry today and have been licensed by 26 companies, even as the government's work goes on.

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Elizabeth Montalbano

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