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States file formal request to extend Microsoft oversight

As expected, the top prosecutors in six states and the District of Columbia asked the judge overseeing the software maker's antitrust case to extend the consent decree until 2012.

Rather than letting Microsoft's antitrust oversight end in November, the current oversight should be maintained through 2012, prosecutors for six states and the District of Columbia said in a court filing this week.

The group of states said at a hearing last month that they would make the request. The filing, made Tuesday, argues that Microsoft took years to make fully available the communications protocols required under the 2002 accord, and that there are still few PC makers offering rival browsers to Internet Explorer with new PCs.

Microsoft brushed off the concerns.

"This is not new," company spokesman Jack Evans said in an e-mail. "Yesterday's filing formalizes the arguments that California and a few of the states made during the status hearing in September...We believe, and the Department of Justice has stated, the consent decree has served its purpose, ending practices the courts found were anticompetitive, and providing additional legal remedies as well.

A status conference in the case is slated for early next month.