A US judge has drawn up a new schedule in the anti-trust judgement against Microsoft because of ongoing problems in the technical documentation supplied by the software giant.

The new schedule by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, of Columbia's district court, will deliver 58 documents related to Microsoft's software communication protocols by 15 December, with more documents coming in February, April and May.

Kollar-Kotelly placed a two-year extension to parts of her anti-trust judgment against Microsoft in May. "I hope this approach works," the judge said during yesterday's anti-trust compliance hearing. "We seem to be on the correct timetable."

In an anti-trust settlement approved in November 2002, Kollar-Kotelly ordered Microsoft to create the technical documentation so competing software companies can buy licences to Microsoft's communications protocols and make products that work with Microsoft software.

But there have been numerous delays and complaints about the quality of technical documentation provided by Microsoft - a repeat of the software company's behaviour across all of its anti-trust judgements. "We'll have to see if this achieves the [results] that have eluded us so far," the judge said after Microsoft representatives explained the technical documentation "reset".

Under the plan, Microsoft delivered 32 technical documents to the court-mandated technical committee by 25 October and will deliver another 26 documents by 15 December. The technical documentation that's most useful to protocol licensees will be delivered first, Microsoft said.

The schedule has Microsoft delivering another 99 technical documents between 22 February and 29 May. About 90 days after the initial release of a document, Microsoft will give the technical committee and licensees an online build of the document.

In addition, there were 943 identified problems with the current technical documentation, up from 835 problems identified as of 30 September. Microsoft will work on fixing those problems as part of the revamped documentation project, said Robert Muglia, senior vice president of Microsoft's server and tools business.

Lawyers for the US Department of Justice and some of the plaintiff states in the anti-trust case said the documentation plan seems to be working. But Stephen Houck, a lawyer for the California group of state plaintiffs in the case, noted that hundreds of problems still exist in the current documentation. "While much as been accomplished, there's much left to do," Houck said.

Muglia walked the judge through an example of the new technical documentation, and Kollar-Kotelly noted the new version had "a lot more details". "My only wish is that it had been done earlier, so we wouldn't be at this point," she said.