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Strong Reaction From Politicos On EU-Microsoft Decision

In the wake of the European Union's sweeping decision against Microsoft, the ruling produced sharp reactions from U.S. political leaders, some hailing the decision, others attacking it.

In the U. S. Senate, Majority Leader Bill Frist criticized the decision, while Senator Herb Kohl praised it. A group of Congressmen criticized the ruling.

In Massachusetts, Attorney General Tom Reilly, who is pursuing the only state antitrust charges against Microsoft, supported the decision. "The EU's ruling," said Reilly in a statement, "underscores what we've known all along, that the remedies Massachusetts is seeking in its case against Microsoft are both practical and possible. The EU's decision, unlike the settlement reached between Microsoft and the Justice Department, addresses the company's past, present, and future conduct."

In the crazy-quilt world of antitrust, the Department of Justice, which resolved its antitrust case against the software giant several months ago, is criticizing the EU decision, claiming it could stifle innovation and hurt consumers.

Hewitt Pate, assistant attorney general for the antitrust division, said the 2002 settlement between the DOJ and Microsoft delivers "clear and effective protection" for consumers and competitors. He added that the $603 million fine leveled against Microsoft--in "the most ambiguous and controversial area of antitrust enforcement"--calls into question lesser fines imposed on price-fixing cartels and other business arrangements.

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