Microsoft continues to act monopolistically in violation of its anti-trust settlement, claims the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General, the one remaining state that hasn’t agreed to the deal.

A group of states signed up to the deal are also critical of the agreement that’s intended to level the playing field in the software business, which doesn't seem to be working as intended, the states that have settled with Microsoft said in a court filing released on Friday.

The Microsoft Communications Protocol Program (MCPP) was designed to foster the development of non-Microsoft software products. It lets competitors gain access, under a licence agreement, to the protocols that Microsoft's PC OS (operating system) uses to interoperate with its server OSes.

So far, the MCPP doesn't seem to have produced licensing deals that will give rise to broad competitors to the Windows desktop, according to the latest Joint Status Report by 16 states and the District of Columbia on Microsoft's compliance with the November 2002 antitrust settlement The program appears to have turned off some potential licensees who might become important competitors, the states said, criticizing its complexity.

The agreement developers are required to sign extends to 50 pages; the States want Microsoft to create a briefer agreement, which the company says it plans to do.

Meanwhile, the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General, in a court brief released by the Department of Justice (DOJ), accuses Microsoft of charging "excessive" prices for software communications protocols that it was ordered to share with competitors under the terms of its November 2002 antitrust settlement with the DOJ. The protocol-sharing program is "ineffective," according to the brief.

"We continue to receive and review complaints, some of them recent, that Microsoft's pricing for the protocols is excessive, that the information provided is incomplete, and that key protocols are beyond the reach of the program," the brief states.

A Microsoft spokeswoman called the Massachusetts complaints "unsubstantiated."

"Given the vague and unsubstantiated nature of these allegations, it's difficult to respond," spokeswoman Stacy Drake said. "However, we are always willing to sit down and discuss any issues of concern."

The Massachusetts attorneys also accuse Microsoft of engaging in a "campaign against various search engines" and software for creating documents such as Adobe Acrobat. Drake said she could not comment on the individual complaints in the brief.