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Microsoft will be trial of century – but which one?

Even if Microsoft doesn't get another two week delay, the action promises to grind on into the future

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It may well prove inappropriate to dub USA versus Microsoft Corporation the trial of the century, because it could easily carry on to the next century. The longer the trial continues, the better it will be for Microsoft since the issues will have less relevance if the case drags on, and Microsoft would have the opportunity to become dominant in additional markets such as Internet tools and e-commerce. There is an outstanding request filed last Friday by Microsoft for a two-week continuance (delay) until 2 November. Yesterday, the DoJ filed its opposition to this. Judge Jackson can rule when he wishes, and it could well be that he will wait until later in the week to make it more difficult for Microsoft to appeal against his ruling before the trial starts on Monday. It is expected that he will deny the request, made as a result of what Microsoft called "last minute maneuvering" by the DoJ in substituting two witnesses, Avadis ("Avie") Tevanian of Apple and James Gosling of Sun. Microsoft asked for leave of the court to depose them, obtain additional documents from Apple and Sun, and possibly depose other current or former employees of Apple and Sun. Last night, Microsoft received the depositions of Gosling and Tevanian. In a relatively unusual step, Judge Jackson ordered that testimony for the case should be presented in writing to speed things up. The witness documents have been filed under seal, but will be made public probably the day before the witness is cross-examined and rebutted. It would be very unpopular if the trial went on beyond Christmas, since the court would probably sit on all days that were not public holidays. The DoJ has also been talking about what amounts to a further proceeding before the present case ends, to discuss remedies to prevent future occurrences of Microsoft's behaviour, which could lengthen the trial. It is most unlikely that Judge Jackson will rule for a month, or more likely several months, after the trial ends. Appeals are very likely, whatever the outcome. We expect the action in the federal court to take at least three months, but the most important proceedings will be in the court of public opinion. ® Click for more stories

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