US Department of Justice for the first time publicly called for Microsoft to be broken up as a solution to the issue of anti-trust, which has been debated for more than two years.
The comments were made by government lawyer Stephen Houck yesterday as the two sides presented their closing arguments in the federal anti-trust trial against the software giant.
Although the trial has reached the stage of closing arguments, a Microsoft lawyer warned that proceedings are far from any conclusion and that the case could still be in process as late as next summer.
John Frank, head of legal and corporate affairs at Microsoft, told VNU Newswire: "We're still in the first half of the match. Who ever loses will doubtless take the matter to the appeals court which would be next summer. It could then go to the Supreme Court which would take another year."
Frank explained that following yesterday's summing up, the judge will consider all the documents and decide which facts he believes each side has proved and is expected to announce his verdict at the beginning of next year.
Frank was adamant that the US government does not have a valid case against Microsoft.
"The most striking thing about the case is that the government has run away from its central allegations. When it started it was about the illegal tying of Internet Explorer to Windows. Now the government has taken up on a broad monopolisation charge," he said.
He said Microsoft expects to win the case, but said the trial had been a "painful experience."
"It's a very painful experience for a company to get sued by its own government and we have matured a bit under the stress. The government has made the case much more personal, portraying Microsoft executives in a bad light, which has nothing to do with the integration of browsers," he said.
Frank added: "It has taught us that clearly we need to do a better job of talking to the government about their concerns, we could have done a better job of making them understand."
Last Friday Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison said at a conference in London that he believed Microsoft had knowingly broken anti-trust lawas and attempted to unfairly squash competition.
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