Following strong public comment, Microsoft and the US Department of Justice are considering whether to modify their proposed settlement to the government's antitrust case against Microsoft.

The move follows the court's receipt of an overwhelming number of public-comment submissions - over 30,000 in all, 50 per cent of which criticized the deal.

The submissions included some advertisements and, in one case, pornography – about 7,500 were in favour of the settlement, 15,000 against, and 7,000 did not express a view one way or another.

Because so many comments were received, the litigants have asked that the court omit oral third-party testimony from any future hearings on the agreement. They suggest the judge holds a one-day hearing to clarify any remaining issues related to the settlement.

The joint report to the court says: "A large number of highly interested and motivated third parties have taken full advantage of the opportunity to submit extensive comments which set forth in painstaking detail their views of the settlement and whether or not the court should enter it. As a result, third parties have had a full and effective mechanism to present to the court any arguments or concerns they believe it should address in its public interest determination."

The public comment period is required under US federal law because of an act, called the Tunney Act. It means the proposed settlement in any antitrust case must be made open to public comment and must be approved by a judge as in the public interest.

Any modifications to the settlement will be filed by February 27.