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Microsoft spurs spin cycle in D.C.

Two opponents on Capitol Hill weigh in on news that the software giant and state and federal antitrust regulators are trying to settle their differences.

The Microsoft spin cycle continues, with two opponents on Capitol Hill weighing in on news that the software giant and state and federal antitrust regulators are trying to settle their differences without going to court.

Sen. Slade Gorton (R-Washington), issued a statement today saying that regulators' decision to negotiate with Microsoft "is the latest in a series of backpedaling by the Justice Department and states attorneys general. The states attorneys general thought they had found a pot of gold. Now they have changed their tune and, in their continued attempts to save face, they are not putting the interests of the consumer first."

Slade Gorton
Sen. Slade Gorton

Gorton has long been a supporter of Microsoft, which employs the majority of its 22,000 employees in his state.

Meanwhile, Sen. Orrin Hatch, Microsoft's nemesis inside the Beltway for nearly a year now, issued a statement today that said the settlement talks bolster regulators' arguments.

Sen. Orrin Hatch
Orrin Hatch

"The fact that Microsoft is negotiating with the Justice Department and apparently is prepared to make substantial concessions certainly undermines any argument that Justice has no case," Hatch said. "The fact that Microsoft itself has offered to delay the shipment of Windows 98 in order to forestall DOJ action certainly undermines its prior rhetoric that any such delay would have dramatic consequences for the industry."

Hatch's state of Utah is home to some of Microsoft's most bitter competitors, including Novell and Caldera. As chair of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, Hatch oversees the Justice Department and has held two hearings to scrutinize Microsoft's business practices.

As reported, the Justice Department and nearly two dozen state attorneys general had been prepared to file a suit alleging a broad course of anticompetitive practices on the part of Microsoft. Earlier today, the parties agreed to enter into negotiations that could lead to a settlement, and regulators promised not to take action during the talks. Microsoft, in return, agreed to delay the shipment of Windows 98 to computer vendors until Monday, instead of tomorrow, as scheduled.