US states press for firmer penalties on Microsoft

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Nine US states have urged a federal judge to impose stiff antitrust sanctions against Microsoft, saying the software giant is still using its monopoly power to bully potential competitors.

The nine states argue that a proposed settlement with the U.S. Justice Department and nine other states is too weak to stop the company from abusing its monopoly power in technologies that have arisen since the case began nearly four years ago.

For example, citing internal Microsoft memos, the nine states claim that in 2000 and 2001 Microsoft pressured Dell Computer to drop plans to offer the open-source Linux operating system on some machines it sells.

Last June, a federal appeals court threw out some of the charges against Microsoft but upheld a lower-court ruling that the company had illegally maintained its Windows software monopoly in personal computer operating systems.

The states are proposing that Microsoft sell a "modular" version of Windows that would allow computer makers to strip out add-on features like the Internet Explorer browser or Windows Media Player. They also want to force Microsoft to disclose more about its software and to license its browser to other companies royalty-free.

Microsoft warned that the sanctions sought by the dissenting states would cause havoc in the computer industry and claim it would force the company to withdraw its Windows operating system from the market.

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