Microsoft (Quote, Chart) is in full court press for this year's
release of Windows Vista. Maybe that's why it has taken its eye off
the U.S. antitrust judgment ball.
In a response to Microsoft's monthly status report, the
plaintiffs in the case slammed the software vendor for falling
behind on replying to requests from the monitoring Technical
Committee (TC). The TC monitors Microsoft's compliance with the
terms of the November 2002 settlement of the antitrust case brought
by the U.S. Department of Justice.
One focus of the TC has been the Microsoft Communications
Protocol Program (MCPP), instituted as part of the original
judgment, which licenses the protocols that let third-party software
vendors ensure their products can communicate with a Microsoft
server operating system product.
To date, 26 firms have taken licenses, and there are a dozen
products that have been shipped under the program, according to
In its response filed on Monday, the plaintiffs, which are the
U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ), 17 states and the District of
Columbia, complained, "Microsoft has not detailed the seriousness of
the current situation."
They complained that, since mid-November 2005, Microsoft has
fallen significantly behind in responding to technical documentation
issues submitted by the TC.
While Microsoft had met the service level guidelines (SLGs)
established to measure the timeliness of its responses 100 percent
of the time, they said, in the majority of cases, Microsoft no
longer is meeting the guidelines.
"Microsoft is working hard to resolve the concerns raised today
by the DOJ. In our filing Jan. 17, we detailed the efforts we've
made to increase the speed of our responses to technical
documentation issues found by the Technical Committee," Microsoft
spokesman Jack Evans told internetnews.com.
But the plaintiffs said that, in its latest status report filed
on Jan. 17, 2006, Microsoft failed to detail the number of people
working on compliance.
"Microsoft needs to dramatically increase the resources devoted
to responding to technical documentation issues, in order to get its
performance under the SLGs back on track," the filing said. "Until
it does, the backlog grows day by day, as the number of technical
documentation issues identified by the TC staff is not declining."
Evans responded, "We ... underscored our commitment to expend
whatever resources are necessary to address these issues, including
hiring as many qualified people as we can find to accomplish these
highly specialized tasks."
The three members of the TC are experts chosen jointly by
Microsoft and the plaintiffs. Their office referred requests for
comment to the DoJ, which did not immediately respond.
In addition to the increasingly sluggish flow of information from
Microsoft, the plaintiffs said Microsoft had glossed over some
critical details in its description of the installation of TC
testing hardware in an Indian lab.
When the TC team arrived in India, they said, Microsoft informed
them that its prior description of the network infrastructure in one
of the test labs was inaccurate. The TC had designed its monitoring
system based on the faulty information and had to create a
If it didn't, the response document said, a delay in completion
of the work is virtually certain.