Earlier in January, it was determined that only the part of the decree regarding documentation needed to be extended, but such a move was not considered sufficient enough by a number of US States. Without the standard extension, Microsoft would allow other firms to develop new software to later discourage dealers, or resellers, from carrying the software programs once the programs were complete.
The ruling states that Microsoft needs to make documentation available to other software manufacturers to allow for the development of software products that work well with the operating systems created by Microsoft. Without documentation being made available to these developers, consumers would run the risk of purchasing software programs that may not work with computer systems running the Microsoft Windows operating system.
What this latest ruling will do is keep the decision regarding antitrust in effect for the remainder of Windows Vista's lifespan, but the ruling seems to fall short of the requests made by the attorney generals of various states that have asked for as much as five more years to make sure the proper effects of antitrust regulations have time to have an impact. However, there was a previous suggestion that the Department of Justice would possibly not have to rule an extension since competition for Microsoft had grown since the initial 2002 ruling. In fact, the Justice Department stated that extending the decree had "no basis."
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Part of the reason for the delay in the presentation of documentation is that when the antitrust rulings were made in 2002, Microsoft only had 10 employees dedicated to producing the documentation after the rulings. As of 2006, Microsoft had a total of 320 program managers and engineers making sure things were done right. These figures are proof that Microsoft did not immediately have the resources in place to complete the documentation, which created the delay. Now the protocols are licensed by 41 companies and 13 of those companies are selling software products developed with those protocols.