September 20, 2001

SEPTEMBER 20, 2001

CONTACT: Francis Ackerman, Assistant Attorney General

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that he has joined five other state attorneys general in expressing consumer protection and antitrust concerns to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. The attorneys general of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Montana, and Arkansas said in a letter to Ballmer, "We add our voices to those calling on Microsoft to remedy the antitrust problems that are now evident. . . . We agree with our colleagues, the litigating states and the federal government, that any anti-competitive aspects of Windows XP should be addressed."

With the addition of attorneys general from Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island, attorneys general in all Northeastern U.S. states are now on record with their concerns about Microsoft's anti-competitive market practices. Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York are already involved as parties in the antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft pending in federal district court in the District of Columbia.

With regard to Windows XP, the letter expresses the AGs' concerns that "Microsoft may have constructed this new product without due regard for relevant legal rulings, and without due regard for other issues involving consumer choice and consumer privacy."

Among the consumer choice concerns with Windows XP is that it may diminish consumer access to platforms that might pose a threat to Microsoft's Windows operating system. Among the alternate platforms at issue are AOL's Instant Messenger and RealNetworks' Real Media Player.

Among the privacy concerns surrounding Windows XP is the concern that it encourages consumers to use a "Passport account," through which Microsoft could become the repository of a vast array of personally identifiable financial information about an enormous segment of the consuming public. Advance versions of Windows XP inform consumers that a Passport account with Microsoft is required in order to run Windows XP, which is not true.

Attorney General Rowe stated, "The antitrust laws protect competition, not particular competitors. They are intended to help provide consumers with the highest quality goods at the lowest possible price. We are telling Microsoft that we are looking out for Maine consumers."