The US Department of Justice (DoJ) defended the terms of its antitrust settlement with Microsoft to a federal judge in the hope of gaining an endorsement.
The move was made despite objections from the nine states seeking harsher sanctions against the company.
DoJ attorney Philip Beck told US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly that a federal appeals court fundamentally narrowed the scope of Microsoft's wrongdoing, which made it difficult for the government to seek stronger penalties.
"Getting more would have been an uphill battle that was likely to have been resolved against us," said Beck. "We tried very hard the first time around and we were not able to do it."
Meanwhile, Microsoft lawyer John Warden said that the company accepted a settlement that "not only addresses the acts identified by the courts as illegal, but is far broader".
He explained that additional provisions, such as disclosing software code to link computers that run corporate networks with handheld devices, were accepted as "the price of the settlement".
Warden claimed that the settlement was in the best interests of all involved, and said it would reduce costs and strains on Microsoft in ending the four-year case.
Judge Kollar-Kotelly asked the government to clarify several elements of the settlement which she said were vague, and questioned whether all the proper disclosures had been made to the court.
The judge, who is holding two days of hearings on the proposed settlement, stated that it was not likely that she would make a ruling in the immediate future. "I have a lot of work ahead of me before I make this decision," she said.
As they now stand, the settlement terms prevent Microsoft from retaliating against computer makers for using non-Microsoft products, and insist on a uniform licence price for Windows.
The settlement also requires the company to disclose the inner workings of some of its software to third-party software makers, and makes it easier for consumers to remove some Windows features, such as the Internet Explorer browser.
Microsoft reached the settlement deal with the DoJ in November when nine of the 18 states in the lawsuit agreed to the conditions.
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