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Microsoft on its own in court

The Bush administration won't help Microsoft in its courtroom struggles to avoid more stringent antitrust-related punishments sought by West Virginia and Massachusetts. In a May 21 letter, the Justice Department said it will stay out of further proceedings, including a November hearing before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Nine states and the Justice Department settled with Microsoft over their claims the software maker had unlawfully wielded its monopoly power against rivals. Massachusetts and West Virginia are the final holdouts from a group of nine other states that had tried to obtain more stringent sanctions against Microsoft. The two states have appealed the settlement. Meanwhile, the settling states and the Justice Department are required to file compliance status reports with District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly every six months, with the first report due July 3.