By Jonathan Krim, Washington Post Staff Writer http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tm...ashpost/20031025/tc_washpost/a14205_2003oct24 The Justice Department is continuing to review why only a handful of companies have licensed computer code from Microsoft Corp. that would allow competing software to work with network servers powered by Microsoft, government lawyers told a federal judge yesterday. Microsoft was required to establish reasonable terms for licensing the code as part of an antitrust settlement approved last year that places various restrictions on the company's business practices. During a federal court hearing in Washington yesterday to review the company's compliance with the agreement, government lawyers told U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly that the Justice Department is generally satisfied with Microsoft's adherence to the overall settlement. The most serious ongoing issue involves the licensing provision for Microsoft's software code, Renata B. Hesse, a Justice Department attorney, told the judge. The original license terms established by Microsoft were sharply criticized as onerous and too expensive to be attractive enough to foster meaningful competition. Microsoft issued revised terms in August, and nine companies have now signed up for the code. Hesse said the department needs more time to evaluate whether the program is sufficient and to determine why more companies have not signed up for the code. The licensing provision is only one of the issues the Justice Department and several states are continuing to review. Under the terms of the settlement, Microsoft also is required to allow computer users to adjust their Windows operating systems to launch non-Microsoft programs for such tasks as browsing the Internet or listening to digital music. But in the newest version of the operating system, Windows XP (news - web sites), a Microsoft section for music shopping overrides the user's preference and launches Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser. Hesse said her department is consulting with a technical committee created under the settlement to evaluate that issue. Microsoft attorney Charles F. Rule said the company is cooperating with the governments to resolve their concerns. He signaled, however, that disagreement remains over the music-shopping question. And he said that the code-licensing program should not be judged by how many companies choose to adopt it, but by whether its terms are fair. Microsoft was found in 2001 to have illegally protected its monopoly for its Windows operating system for personal computers. The company ultimately settled with the Justice Department and several states that had sued it on antitrust grounds. Massachusetts, is appealing the settlement as inadequate. Sara Hinchey, an assistant state attorney general, said that Massachusetts also has collected numerous complaints about "troubling market behavior" by Microsoft but that many of them are not covered by the settlement. The Massachusetts appeal, along with challenges by two industry trade groups, is scheduled to be heard Nov. 4 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.