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Microsoft Chronology - Key dates in the antitrust investigation of Microsoft Corp

By The Associated Press,

Key dates in the antitrust investigation of Microsoft Corp. (NasdaqNM:MSFT - news):

1975 - Microsoft founded by Paul Allen and Bill Gates, friends from Seattle's Lakeside prep school who co-wrote a programming language for the Altair hobby-kit personal computer a year before.

By 1991, Microsoft's operating systems are used by 93 percent of the world's personal computers.

July 1994 - Microsoft in a consent decree agrees to change contracts with PC makers and eliminate some restrictions on other software makers, ending a Justice Department investigation begun in 1993.

August 1995 - Microsoft launches Windows 95 operating system.

December 1995 - Gates says Microsoft strategy shifting to focus on the Internet.

September 1997 - Microsoft launches Internet Explorer 4.0 in stepped-up challenge to Netscape Communications Corp., whose share of browser market slips to less than two-thirds of Internet users.

October 1997 - Justice Department sues Microsoft, alleging it violated the 1994 consent decree by forcing computer makers to sell its Internet browser as a condition of selling its popular Windows software.

December 1997 - U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson issues preliminary injunction forcing Microsoft to stop, at least temporarily, requiring manufacturers who sell Windows 95 ``or any successor'' to install Microsoft's Internet Explorer. The company appeals.

May 1998 - Justice Department and 20 state attorneys general sue Microsoft, charging it illegally thwarted competition to protect and extend its monopoly on software. One state later drops from the suit.

June 23 - A three-judge federal appeals panel removes the restrictions that Jackson imposed on Windows 95 software, saying there was adequate justification to bundle the Internet browser in Windows.

Aug. 27 - Government lawyers begin questioning Gates for 30 hours over three days in a videotaped deposition. Excerpts are shown in the courtroom during the trial. Separately, America Online begins secret talks to buy Netscape.

Oct. 19 - The antitrust trial begins, expected to last six weeks.

Nov. 24 - America Online confirms it will buy Netscape in a deal ultimately worth $10 billion, weeks after testimony in the trial from senior executives at both companies.

Jan. 13, 1999 - Government rests its case after calling 12 witnesses.

Feb. 26 - Microsoft rests its case, also after 12 witnesses.

Sept. 21 - After rebuttal testimony, final oral arguments from each side.

Nov. 5 - Judge Jackson, in preliminary findings, declares Microsoft a monopoly. He rules that the company's actions are ``stifling innovation'' and hurting consumers.

Nov. 9 - A small advertising company in New York files lawsuit against Microsoft, the first in a wave of litigation against the software giant following the judge's ruling.

Nov. 19 - Jackson appoints Richard Posner, chief judge for the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, as a mediator to oversee voluntary settlement talks between the government and Microsoft.

Nov. 30 - Justice Department lawyers, state attorneys general and Microsoft representatives meet with Posner in Chicago.

Jan. 10, 2000 - Software company Caldera Systems, which had accused Microsoft of killing its competing operating system, settles its antitrust lawsuit for an undisclosed sum.

Jan. 13 - Gates steps aside as Microsoft chief executive and promotes company president, Steve Ballmer.

Jan. 18 - Microsoft, in its first formal response to the court's ruling, says its Windows software doesn't represent a monopoly in the high-tech industry because the company doesn't control the price or availability of software to run the world's personal computers.

Feb. 22 - Judge hears final round of arguments, rejects key legal defense for Microsoft.

March 24 - Microsoft faxes detailed settlement offer to government lawyers.

March 26 - Government rejects proposal.

April 1 - Talks between federal government and Microsoft break down, and Posner says he is ending his mediation effort.

April 3 - Judge finds that Microsoft Corp. violated the Sherman Antitrust Act, ``maintained its monopoly power by anticompetitive means'' and attempted to monopolize the Web browser market.

The judge also rules that Microsoft violated another section of the law by ``unlawfully tying its Web browser to its operating system'' and could be sued under state anti-competition laws.

The software giant says it will appeal. Chairman Gates said the company will look to resolve the case without further litigation and defends Microsoft as fueling innovation rather than stifling competition.


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