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Tuesday, 4 April, 2000, 02:59 GMT 03:59 UK
Microsoft loses anti-trust case

The computer firm Microsoft says it is confident that it will eventually overturn the decision by a judge in Washington that it violated United States anti-monopoly laws.

The Microsoft chairman, Bill Gates said the judgement turned reality on its head -- the consumer had benefited from innovation and low prices as a result of his firm's actions.

Earlier, the judge ruled that Microsoft used its market position to damage competitors, particularly Netscape, its chief rival in the field of web browsers that access the internet.

The judgement was welcomed by the Attorney General, Janet Reno, who said consumers could now look forward to the benefits of greater competition.

The BBC Washington correspondent says that in the next stage of the case, the judge could impose radical changes in the way Microsoft operates, possibly even ordering it to be broken up. Earlier, high-technology shares on the Nasdaq exchange suffered their biggest-ever one-day fall and dealings in Microsoft's own shares were suspended for a time after they'd been marked down nearly fifteen per cent.

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