WASHINGTON (03/25/2000) - U.S. government lawyers have reviewed a proposed settlement to the antitrust suit against Microsoft Corp. that company lawyers submitted late yesterday, according to news reports today.
In the proposal Microsoft says it would consider releasing some of the company's Windows operating system source code, ABC News reported today quoting unidentified sources. The disclosure would include APIs (application programming interfaces), making it easier for rival software makers to write programs that would run on Windows, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Microsoft's settlement offer also says the company would meet a government demand and separate its Internet Explorer Web browser from Windows, according to the Journal.
The proposed settlement further states that Microsoft would be willing to accept punishment as long as it is not required to admit that it violated the law, and that it would agree to some oversight of its business practices, according to ABC. But the proposal says Microsoft will not accept government oversight or control of software development or innovation, or business strategy.
None of the reports, including stories in the Washington Post and on the Associated Press wire, names its sources. Spokespeople for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Microsoft would not comment, they say. The Post reports that the two sides remain sharply divided.
According to ABC, DOJ lawyers are expected to ask Microsoft to clarify some of its proposals, and face-to-face discussions could follow tomorrow or Monday.
The Journal says Microsoft executives and Justice Department officials are expected to meet separately this weekend with court-appointed mediator Judge Richard Posner in Chicago, then meet face-to-face early next week.
Microsoft's bid to settle the antitrust case filed by the U.S. Department of Justice, 19 U.S. states and the District of Columbia nearly two years ago came within days of a meeting representatives of the two sides reportedly held with U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson.
Reports say Jackson told the representatives he planned to issue his ruling in the case on Tuesday unless progress toward a settlement was reached.
Microsoft has been on the defensive since Jackson issued his findings of fact in November, which said Microsoft enjoys a monopoly in the market for PC operating systems. The findings were otherwise highly critical of Microsoft's business practices and were seen as a strong indicator of how the judge would rule in the final outcome, but Jackson also appointed Posner and encouraged the sides to talk.
Microsoft argued all along that it did not have a monopoly and that offering Windows 98 and its Internet Explorer browser as a bundled -- or "tied" -- product was innovative and benefited consumers. The company has referred to the idea of a breakup as "reckless and irresponsible."
Microsoft, in Redmond, Washington, can be reached at +1-425-882-8080 or athttp://www.microsoft.com/.