In a dramatic last-minute attempt to forestall federal antitrust lawsuits, Microsoft Corp.'s top lawyers met Thursday with the Justice Department and at least 20 states to offer "major concessions," state officials said.

Facing the imminent antitrust lawsuits from the Justice Department and the state attorneys general, including Utah's, Microsoft's top lawyers offered the concessions to ease concerns that the software company has illegally stifled competition.A state source who is familiar with the ongoing talks said details of Microsoft's latest offer were not immediately clear, but he characterized them as "major concessions."

Another state source said, "Microsoft came to DOJ this morning and said, `Let's talk.' "

A Microsoft spokesman would not confirm that an offer had been made.

"We have yet to hear from them (the Justice Department or states) that there is a case being filed," Microsoft spokesman Jim Cullinan said, "and we'll continue to provide them with the information they need and continue our constant dialogue."

The attorneys general for New York, Connecticut and Iowa were meeting with Justice Department antitrust chief Joel I. Klein, and with Microsoft's lawyers, said officials from two states.

The Justice Department and the states had planned to file antitrust lawsuits Thursday in U.S. District Court, contending that Microsoft has wielded its monopoly status to illegally crimp competition, especially in the market for Internet browsers, the software that people use to view information on the Web.