Microsoft and the Department of Justice (DOJ) lawyers yesterday claimed their proposed agreement in the antitrust case goes further than last year's court of appeals findings required.

Microsoft said, during a settlement hearing before Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, that it hopes to put five years of battling with the US government behind it in order to build constructive relationships with the DOJ, state attorneys general, and the industry at large.

The DOJ and Microsoft are arguing that their proposed settlement is in the public interest. Before the proceedings began, Judge Kollar-Kotelly told the courtroom that her questions "should not be interpreted or dissected" to determine whether or not she would approve the settlement. "I have a lot of work before me before I make this decision," she said.

Dissenting decision Judge Kollar-Kotelly will decide the merits of the proposed settlement separately from any decision she takes in the continuing case between Microsoft and the nine dissenting states. Remedy hearings in that case are slated to begin on March 11.

Government lawyers said: "The DOJ and the states have negotiated an excellent decree that is in the public interest and furthers the policies of antitrust law."

Since the proposed settlement calls for modifications to Microsoft's business practices that go beyond those outlined by the court of appeals, this agreement represents the best case scenario, the lawyers said.