No Slack For Microsoft's Rivals

When Microsoft Corp. signed a consent decree in July with U.S. Justice Dept. trust-busters, it emerged virtually unscathed from the feds' five-year probe. Still, the investigation was a protracted--and expensive--headache for Chairman William H. Gates III. And the settlement banned some of Microsoft's most aggressive licensing practices. The experience, rival executives figured, surely would leave Microsoft chastened.

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