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Microsoft Agreement: Attorney General Gives Press Conference

Aired November 2, 2001 - 10:22   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Here is the attorney general, John Ashcroft, talking about the settlement reached today with Microsoft, a very interesting development in the business world.

We shall listen now.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

JOHN ASHCROFT, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: ... meeting their needs in computing and working with their computers.

We're filing this settlement today with the district court -- as a matter of fact, I think you've just concluded the filing -- in accordance with a court directive that the settlement be sought and filed by today.

A competitive software industry is vital to our economy, and effective antitrust enforcement is crucial to preserving competition in the constantly changing high-tech arena.

With the proposed settlement being announced today, the Department of Justice has fully and completely addressed the anti- competitive conduct that was outlined by the Court of Appeals against Microsoft.

Through a broad range of disclosure and nondiscrimination and nonretaliatory and enforcement provisions, this proposed framework and this settlement not only resolves the department's competitive concerns but also does so in a quick and responsible manner.

The proposed settlement puts in place enforcement measures that will require Microsoft to disclose internal operating system interfaces and protocols. These disclosures, in turn, will create opportunities for independent software vendors to develop products that will be competitive with Microsoft's products.

The settlement also gives computer manufacturers flexible to connect -- pardon me -- to contract freely with competing software developers and to place on Microsoft's operating system their middle- ware products, such as browsers, instant messaging software and media players.

ASHCROFT: Additionally, computer manufacturers and software developers will be free to do business with Microsoft's competitors without fear of retaliation.

This settlement is the right result for consumers and for businesses, the right result for the economy and the right result for government. It provides prompt, effective, certain relief for consumers and removes the uncertainty in the computer market -- a critical factor in today's economy.

I want to express my gratitude to the Antitrust Division lawyers and to the entire team at the Justice Department for obtaining safeguards to protect competition that extent beyond the safeguards signaled in the Court of Appeals judgment on June 28, 2001. And I want to thank the Antitrust Division for all their hard work on this case. The American people can be confident not only of the hard work they have done, but of the result that they have achieved.

I would like now to introduce Charles James, the assistant attorney general of the Antitrust Division. Mr. James has been a dedicated and tireless advocate for consumers and for competition in this case, but this case is only a chapter in his experience in working for consumers.

HEMMER: The attorney general, John Ashcroft, in Washington, announcing the agreement that has been reached between Microsoft and the government.

It should be pointed out the states involved in this case have not yet signed off on this deal. Their reaction continues to trickle in as that arrangement comes in, by way of Washington. There is a report from the Microsoft chairman, Bill Gates, that he, quote, finds it "a fair and reasonable settlement" with the government.

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