Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Mass. Fights Microsoft — Alone

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West Virginia’s decision to settle its appeal of Microsoft federal antitrust settlement leaves Massachusetts as the last holdout.On Monday, West Virginia agreed to accept $21 million from the Redmond, Wash., software giant — most of which will come in the form of vouchers for consumers and businesses to purchase hardware and software from any vendor. There are also provisions to boost technology in public schools.

“These results will enable us to continue to protect and serve all consumers in West Virginia, not just those who purchased Microsoft products,” said Attorney General Darrell V. McGraw Jr.

The settlement, which McGraw characterized as “generous,” is expected to be finalized in about 60 days.

McGraw’s Massachusetts counterpart, Tom Reilly, however, is standing pat, according to The Boston Globe.

The stance is consistent with Reilly’s comments in December when he said the pact reached with Department of Justice (DOJ) officials, and approvedby U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in November, was riddled with loopholes and did little to change Microsoft’s competition-quashing practices.

He vowed to push ahead with the case alone if need be and was optimistic that the Bay State would win the case and that Microsoft would have to pay the state’s legal fees, which are now reportedly pushing $2 million.

A spokeswoman for Reilly’s office was not immediately available for comment this morning.

For Massachusetts, which started its investigation of Microsoft anti-competitive practices in 1996, it’s been a long fight. In 1998, Massachusetts sued the company for monopolistic practices related to its Windows operating system and claimed victories (along with its co-plaintiff states and the DOJ) in trial and appeals courts.

Reilly, however, was disappointed with the remedies portion of the case, in which Kollar-Kotelly rejected stricter measures and approved sanctions that roughly paralleled the agreement hammered out between the DOJ and Microsoft.

The judge’s decision ended four years of legal broadsides between Washington and Redmond.

For Microsoft, dispensing with the West Virginia case is part moving past its courtroom battles. The company recently settled lawsuits with AOL Time Warner and consumers in several states.

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