Microsoft yesterday criticized Massachusetts, the lone hold-out state in the software giant's antitrust settlement with the Department of Justice, saying the state is pursuing sanctions that would benefit Microsoft competitors, not consumers.

Massachusetts continues to pursue "extreme" antitrust remedies, Microsoft lawyers. Microsoft argues that Massachusetts has largely ignored a US District Court's findings and instead repeats its own proposed remedies in a brief it filed in May.

The Massachusetts Attorney General's Office didn't have an immediate comment.

The remedies Massachusetts has proposed include requiring Microsoft to unbundle its operating system from all middleware products, but Microsoft argued Wednesday that such a clean separation between its OS and middleware applications would be nearly impossible. Massachusetts also argues that District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly erred in rejecting requests that Microsoft disclose its Windows application programming interfaces to third-party developers and release the Internet Explorer code in an open source license, among other remedies the judge rejected.

West Virginia, the other remaining holdout state, settled its dispute with Microsoft this week.

Microsoft also filed a second brief Wednesday in response to an appeal by the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) and the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA). The two industry groups are arguing that the Microsoft antitrust settlement is not in the public interest.

"Only Massachusetts and a couple of groups of Microsoft competitors are continuing with their efforts to impose over-reaching and punitive terms that the District Court has already determined would harm not just Microsoft, but the software industry and the economy as well," Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler said in a statement. "Today's filing by Microsoft merely underscores what almost everyone now accepts as fact - that the District Court's thorough review and comprehensive rulings represent a fair and appropriate remedy in this case."

Hewitt Pate, assistant attorney general in charge of the US Department of Justice's Antitrust Division, issued a statement in support of Microsoft's position Wednesday. The Microsoft settlement is in the public interest, he said, and he promised the Justice Department would actively enforce its terms.