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U.S. District Judge Stanley Sporkin threw out a proposed settlement for a "crucial" antitrust case, saying the deal between Microsoft Corp. and the U.S. Justice Department was "too narrow" and would allow the company to "continue anti-competitive practices." The ruling was "hailed" by many of Microsoft's competitors, who have complained about Microsoft since the FTC began looking at the company's business practices in '90. What happens next, observers said, is up to the Justice Department and it could take "several paths." One would be to appeal the ruling, arguing that the judge "overstepped his role" in the case. But they could also choose to try to work out a new settlement or void the settlement and fight the company in court (Elizabeth Corcoran, WASHINGTON POST, 2/15).