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Industry group urges Microsoft breakup

The Computer & Communications Industry Association joins the growing chorus that's calling for the restructuring of Microsoft.

The argument for breaking up Microsoft is gaining momentum.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) is joining the growing chorus that's calling for the restructuring of Microsoft. The association has drafted a white paper due out this spring that urges the courts to break the software giant into several pieces, or face future rounds of antitrust litigation.

The CCIA--whose members include AT&T and Sun Microsystems--warns that Microsoft's stated intention of combining its consumer-oriented Windows 98 into its commercial-strength Windows NT will be the next battlefield in a decade-long protracted conflict between the Redmond, Washington-based company and the Justice Department.

"The white paper is currently in draft form and needs member input," said CCIA spokesperson Laurie Head. "Hopefully the interested parties will pay attention to the argument and take it into consideration."

Although the white paper is still being reviewed by CCIA members, the organization is expected to plead for both a breakup along product lines as well as the establishment of several rival companies in similar businesses.

In the past, both the CCIA and other industry groups, like the Software Publishers Association, have taken positions against Microsoft and also encouraged antitrust regulators to take action against the software giant.

Others, including the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA), have recommended the Justice Department, 19 states, and the District of Columbia break up the company in order to avoid what it says is Microsoft's clear tendency to relapse into its previous behavior.

Earlier this month, the SIIA in a report said splitting up Microsoft should be considered because it would be less intrusive than continuous government oversight of the company's compliance with court orders.

The CCIA is the first group to make the increasingly important market for computer servers the basis of its analysis.

In the draft white paper the group argues that Microsoft will continue to leverage its dominant position in the PC operating system market into new areas even if stopped from restricting further innovation in PCs.