US judge allows windows demo in Microsoft case


States seeking stiff antitrust sanctions against Microsoft Corp. will get to demonstrate a version of Windows with removable features after a judge rebuffed objections from Microsoft, which has insisted such a feat is technically impossible.

US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly on Tuesday said she would allow nine states next week to have a computer expert present a version of Windows developed using Microsoft's own technology.

A modular version of Windows is a key demand of the nine states who have rejected a proposed settlement of the four-year-old landmark case as too weak.

The states say a modular version of Windows would level the playing field for non-Microsoft software trying to compete with Microsoft's practice of attaching features to the operating system like its Web browser and multimedia player.

But the software giant says it would be technically impossible to offer multiple versions of Windows and would create confusion for consumers and the computer industry.

Virginia-based computer testing consultant, James Bach, has built his modular version of Windows using Windows XP Embedded, a commercial version of Windows designed for specialty devices such as cash registers and automatic teller machines.

Bach will testify that his modular version of Windows turned out "robust and reliable," Kollar-Kotelly said, citing a submission from the states.

The states named Bach as one of two rebuttal witnesses.

Microsoft attorneys strongly objected, saying the states should have brought Bach in earlier when they were presenting their initial case.

Kollar-Kotelly agreed in part but said it was important to hear from someone who had tried to create a version of Windows that can be altered in the way the states request.