Microsoft shrugs off settlement

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The Independent Online
MICROSOFT'S chairman, Bill Gates, said yesterday that the company had not changed any of its internal sales forecasts for its operating systems products, in spite of the weekend signing of the consent decree that settled a US Justice Department anti-trust investigation into the company's business practices.

The comments from the billionaire founder of Microsoft strengthened the view on Wall Street that the terms of the settlement were highly favourable to the Washington State-based software giant. Microsoft shares finished the day up dollars 1.875 at dollars 50.50.

Mr Gates played down the potential effects of the agreement, which was signed with the US Justice Department and the European Commission. It includes accepting changes in the way Microsoft licenses its operating systems to computer manufacturers, and agreeing to less restrictive non-disclosure agreements for outside software writers involved in writing programs based on Microsoft operating systems. Mr Gates said the settlement 'eliminates something that could have become a major distraction'.