Microsoft: Sun deal unsigned; feds look at Longhorn

In court filing, firm says deal with server maker to be finalized "shortly." Also: Authorities prod new operating system.

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By Ina Fried

As part of Microsoft's settlement with Sun Microsystems, Sun agreed to take part in a licensing program under which Microsoft gives rivals access to various Windows communications protocols. However, Sun's check is apparently still in the mail.

In a court filing late last week, Microsoft noted that the two companies have not signed off on a contract, nor has Sun made a necessary royalty payment. Sun agreed to take part in the Microsoft program as part of a wide-ranging deal earlier this year in which Microsoft agreed to pay Sun $1.95 billion to settle antitrust and other disputes.

A Microsoft representative said on Friday that the deal has yet to be signed but said "we expect to finalize it shortly." A Sun representative said he was looking into the matter.

The requirement that Microsoft license its Windows protocols is part of its 2001 accord with the Department of Justice and various state attorneys general. Microsoft and regulators are required to make quarterly updates, like the recent filing. The document was filed ahead of a status conference Monday before the federal judge overseeing the case.

Also in the document, Microsoft announced that three less well-known companies—Satyam Computer Services, SecureAll Systems and BeTrusted—agreed to take out licenses for the Microsoft protocols.

Microsoft also said in the filing that state and federal regulators are beginning to look at Microsoft's next-generation Windows operating system, code-named Longhorn, to make sure it fits in with the consent decree, in particular a section of the pact that deals with the accessibility of the software to server software known as middleware.

"While Longhorn is not scheduled for release for some time, plaintiffs believe that early attention to these issues will enable plaintiffs and Microsoft to address any potential concerns in a timely manner, before the final structure of the product is locked into place," Microsoft and regulators said in the joint filing.

Microsoft has tweaked the terms of its licensing program on several occasions as part of its implementation of the pact between the company and state and federal regulators. At the end of last month, a federal appeals court upheld the settlement.

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