Gates Hopeful States Will "Sign On"

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2001-11-02

The settlement reached between Microsoft and the Department of Justice in the landmark antitrust case was fair and reasonable, but would change the way the company had traditionally done business and delivered software, Bill Gates, Microsofts chairman and chief software architect told the media Friday morning.

"We went the extra mile to resolve this case and reach a settlement. This agreement contains significant rules and regulations on how we develop and license our software, but it allows Microsoft to keep innovating on behalf of consumers," he said.

The settlement also went beyond the Appeals Court decision, Gates said, though he did not elaborate. It also provides for ongoing oversight by an independent committee.

"We resolve to implementing this settlement promptly and fully," he said.

Microsoft had worked intensely with the court appointed mediator and the DOJ to arrive at this agreement, which represents a fair compromise on all sides. "We hope that when the state Attorneys General have fully reviewed the settlement, they will also agree that this is the right way forward," he said.

The 18 state attorneys general have thus far balked at accepting the deal. Earlier on Friday, District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly gave them until Tuesday morning to make a final decision in that regard.

On Thursday night Californian attorney general Bill Lockyer was the first AG to speak out, saying he would continue to urge the 17 other states to take the review time they needed to fully understand every word and every implication in the proposal before they decided whether to settle.

In a statement Lockyer said doing anything less "would be irresponsible and Im confident the court will agree. We intend to complete our review as expeditiously as possible."

On Friday, Iowa attorney general Tom Miller, who leads the 18-state Microsoft Working Group, said a decision would be made by Tuesday. "While there have been some promising developments in the mediation over the past few days, the States have not joined today in the Settlement Agreement reached between the Department of Justice and Microsoft," he said in a statement.

"As elected law enforcement officials we believe that it is imperative that we fully assess the specific language of the Agreement. We will complete this evaluation by Tuesday and will communicate our decision at that time to Judge Kollar-Kotelly," he added.

Gates also said litigation was never a good thing for any industry or any company and acknowledged that the experience of the past three years had had a profound impact on him personally and on the company.

"We are in a fast moving, competitive industry, but we will focus more on how our actions affect other companies. Along with this settlement comes new responsibilities: to communicate in new ways, to be even more open and to offer new design flexibility," he said.

The settlement removed the uncertainty of the lawsuit and enabled Microsoft to focus on the future. "We are committed to making this settlement a success and to continuing to deliver important new innovations that will re-energize the economy and improve peoples lives," Gates said.

Microsoft was required to disclose the technical interfaces between the middleware in the agreement and Microsoft Windows. "So, wherever that class of software from Microsoft is calling into Windows we disclose to third-parties in a timely manner exactly what functions of the operating system are being called there," he said.

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