WASHINGTON – Under a judge's orders to disclose sensitive details about some of its software, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) wants to publish the information in a protected electronic format that is awkward to use and can be viewed only using Microsoft's own Web browser software, the government complained in court papers Friday.
The Justice Department (search) and 17 states that negotiated a landmark antitrust deal with Microsoft said the company's current plan "significantly limits the practical usability" of the information Microsoft (search) was compelled to reveal to its competitors.
Microsoft said it was cooperating to resolve such concerns within the next 60 days, adding it believes it needs to keep the sensitive information from falling into the hands of companies that haven't agreed to license its technology.
Friday's legal papers were the latest among periodic reports by the government to the trial judge monitoring Microsoft's behavior under the settlement. U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly (search) set a hearing on the matter for Oct. 19.
One of the most important provisions of the court-approved settlement requires Microsoft to permit competitors to license parts of its technology to build products that seamlessly communicate with computers that run Windows software. Microsoft also must disclose the appropriate technical documentation.
The government said Microsoft's preferred format doesn't support sophisticated search techniques to make the information easier to navigate and effectively prevents rival software engineers from making notes. It also can be viewed only using Microsoft's own browser software, the government said.
Microsoft's lawyers contend that the protected document format, known as "MHT," could be viewed through rival Web browser software designed to support it; the company acknowledged, however, there are no non-Microsoft browsers that currently can view such files.
"All along we've maintained the importance of trade secrets and the intellectual property in the technical documentation," spokesman Jim Desler said. "While maintaining that security, we want to make it as easy to use for licensees as possible."
The company's lawyers praised the MHT format as offering "the best available combination of navigational and usability features, familiar viewer interface, ability to handle very large document files and security."