Two US state attorneys general have refused to rule out a possible lawsuit against Microsoft that could hit the software giant's October launch of its next-generation Windows XP operating system (OS).
Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, and Tom Miller of Iowa, said that Microsoft "may be repeating its efforts to maintain and extend its monopoly" by bundling features such as media players and instant messaging clients into the new OS.
Some 92 per cent of computers use a version of Windows as its OS, and Microsoft's choice of bundled software has already lead to a falling out with long-time partner America Online.
Miller and Blumenthal, the top elected prosecutors in their respective states, added that Microsoft's "very worrying" Windows XP strategy was "acting to preclude competition of new platforms" and that they "would never completely rule out a new lawsuit".
It was Microsoft's bundling of its Internet Explorer browser with Windows that triggered the ongoing legal fight between the software giant and both Federal and State government lawyers, including Miller and Blumenthal.
A Microsoft spokesman said that "it is unfortunate that our competitors continue to spread misinformation about Microsoft's products. That seems to be their only strategy - to invest in lobbying regulators rather than innovating and improving their products."
Miller and Blumenthal denied a news report that they are about to file a new lawsuit, saying that their "focus now is on the [existing] antitrust case that is already before the courts".
That suit is currently under review on appeal, although a ruling is expected soon that may split Microsoft into separate OS and software businesses.
Meanwhile, Steve Balmer, chief executive at Microsoft, has stated that the firm has no contingency plan to deal with such a potential court-ordered break up of the company.
"None whatsoever," he told The Washington Post. "We believe our business practices have always been 100 per cent consistent with the law."
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