Microsoft got a new judge for the next phase of its antitrust trial the same day it handed off the final version of its disputed new Windows XP operating system to PC manufacturers.
District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly was selected Aug. 24 by lottery to consider remedies against Microsoft and whether the company illegally tied its browser to its OS. Before being appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1997, Kollar-Kotelly, 58, worked as an attorney in the Department of Justices Criminal Division and for the Department of Health and Human Services.
Kollar-Kotelly is no stranger to high-profile cases. Last year, she was assigned to handle a suit filed by European tycoon Mohamed Al-Fayed over documents in the death of his son and Britains Princess Diana.
She also presided over a case against the Food and Drug Administration regarding labeling of genetically engineered foods, ruling last year that critics of biotechnology had not proven the FDA had violated laws.
But legal experts said Kollar-Kotelly does not appear to have much experience dealing with antitrust issues or much expertise in high tech.
Robert Lande, a University of Baltimore law professor, said Kollar-Kotelly has dealt with antitrust issues on only two connected cases during her tenure as a federal judge. The cases, he said, are not similar to the Microsoft case, and "generalizing about what she did" in the other cases "would be dangerous."
Still, Lande said, "What you want is somebody who is fair, who is open-minded, who will listen carefully to all sides. A judge with antitrust and high-tech experience would just be able to do it faster."
Old issues that Kollar-Kotelly will consider about the OS have gained new currency with the impending release of XP. The Home Edition will retail for $199, while the Professional version is priced at $299.