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Justice's Klein Still Open on Microsoft Remedy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A top Justice Department official Wednesday declined to rule out seeking a breakup of Microsoft Corp. (NasdaqNM:MSFT - news) as a remedy in the Microsoft antitrust case, saying he was keeping all options open.

``We are considering a variety of options,'' Justice Department antitrust chief Joel Klein told reporters when asked about a published report that the federal government and 19 states, that brought the case, were leaning away from any breakup of the software giant.

``Other people may try to speculate ... may try to spin us ... may try to lean,'' he said after testifying to the House Judiciary Committee on antitrust enforcement oversight.

District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ruled April 3 that Microsoft had broken U.S. antitrust laws by abusing its monopoly in personal computer operating systems to harm consumers and other companies.

Jackson has set a May 24 hearing on appropriate penalties and asked the government side to present its proposed remedies by April 28 at the latest.

``We are going to do our job,'' Klein said.

A report in Wednesday's Washington Post said lawyers for the Justice Department and 19 states were leaning against asking for a breakup of Microsoft to prevent any future antitrust abuses.

But the newspaper, citing sources, added that the debate was fluid enough that the decision could go either way.

An alternative to breaking up Microsoft, that government attorneys could seek, would be to impose restrictions on its business conduct. Industry experts have suggested it might be asked to freely distribute the inner workings of its Windows operating software or be required to charge uniform prices to computer makers.


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