MS foes press law-makers for second antitrust suit

ProComp, a group backed by rivals Microsoft rivals including Oracle and Sun Microsystems, took a pile of paperwork to Vermont Wednesday to convince US Attorneys General during their annual meeting there that Microsoft's plans to bundle messaging and media applications with its next operating system is a move to extend its monopoly power into other markets.

The group suggested that Microsoft is again using its monopoly power in the PC operating systems market to stifle competition, this time with its forthcoming Windows XP operating system, ProComp President Mike Pettit said in a phone interview from Vermont Wednesday.

He would not comment on whether the state attorneys general were receptive to his presentation but noted he would likely return to their meeting Thursday to answer more questions.

"I'm not in the position to summarise their response," Pettit said. "Those are judgements they have to make on their own."

Attorneys general attending the meeting could not be reached for comment.

Part of Microsoft's strategy with Windows XP parallels the one used in 1996 when it tightly integrated its Internet Explorer (IE) Web browser with Windows, Pettit said. By giving its browser software away for free with the operating system, which was used on almost 90 per cent of all PCs, Microsoft helped crush a competing browser from Netscape Communications. The behaviour contributed to the company being branded a predatory monopolist by a US District Court, a decision the software maker has appealed.

"We've identified a number of additional violations of the law and we will bring them to the attention of lawmakers," Pettit said. "If they agree, they have to decide what to do."

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Matt Berger

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