Closing Arguments Heard in Microsoft Antitrust Case

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

(CNSNews.com) - Lawyers for the Justice Department and Microsoft presented their closing arguments Tuesday in Washington as the government's antitrust case against the computer software giant concluded. However, a final ruling from presiding Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson is not expected for at least several weeks, say courtroom sources.

"The trial is basically over. Now it's in the hands of the judge," Association for Competitive Technology President Jonathan Zuck told CNSNews.com.

The Justice Department alleges that Microsoft has unfairly used the dominance of its Windows computer software operating system to restrict competition. According to industry figures, ninety percent of the world's computers use Microsoft Windows as their operating system.

Microsoft argues that it is being unfairly targeted by the Justice Department for producing a superior product that has lowered costs and brought uniformity to the computer industry, thereby increasing efficiency.

Last November, Jackson issued his findings of fact, which, although not a final ruling, said that Microsoft "behaved in a monopolistic manner" and stifled competition.

In his final ruling, he is expected to decide whether or not Microsoft has broken US antitrust laws.

If Jackson does rule against Microsoft, he has several options, all of which could have a major impact on the computer industry, said Zuck. Judge Jackson could order Microsoft to break up into separate companies; he could order Microsoft to make its software codes available to its competitors, or Jackson could set pricing restrictions on Microsoft.

"It would send a chill through the industry, that you can't compete too hard," said Zuck. "It flies in the face of antitrust law."

As the trial in Washington concludes, negotiators for Microsoft and the Justice Department are meeting in Chicago in an attempt to reach an out-of-court settlement.