Several states ask antitrust officials to extend oversight of Microsoft

Ending court oversight of Microsoft's business practices in November would not allow enough time to consider the antitrust implications of the new Windows Vista operating system, a group of US states said in a filing Thursday. US District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who oversees Microsoft Corp.'s adherence to the terms of a 2002 antitrust settlement, asked the software maker, the Justice Department and a group of states led by California submit reports by Thursday on the effectiveness of the consent decree. The oversight aimed to make it possible for Microsoft's middleware competitors - who build software that links the operating system with everyday programs - to compete fairly, even if Microsoft's operating system monopoly persisted. "Microsoft has not directly contravened these provisions," said the states' report, which was submitted by the office of California Attorney General Jerry Brown. But the California group said the consent decree has not led to any more competition. The report cites Microsoft's continued dominance in the operating system market and the fact that few, if any, PC makers have sold computers with non-Microsoft Web browsers set as the default, among other examples.