MS-DoJ deal talks scheduled for Tuesday

But from what we hear of Microsoft's 'offer,' it doesn't look good

MS on Trial Only one attorney general broke ranks yesterday after the meeting to discuss a possible out of court settlement with Microsoft. Patricia Madrid of New Mexico said: "We'll have talks on Tuesday," and that they would include all parties (ie. the states as well as the DoJ). She also noted that Microsoft gave $2500 to her opponent during the November election campaign -- unwise as it turned out, since Madrid won, and the opponent was subsequently fined $17,500 for failing to report this and other gifts. Of course the election of law officers does raise other concerns. Lead attorney for the states, Tom Miller of Iowa, was keeping mum, and even refused to confirm that the meeting was about Microsoft. This would have been easier if he had not been standing in front of a sign that said "Microsoft meeting". The AGs then all trotted off to the White House. Both sides are playing the "negotiations need to be confidential" card, but there is little expectation that there will be a settlement. Wall Street doesn't seem to agree, since Microsoft shares gained five per cent to $180. It seems that the gnomes thrive on nonsense, and pay little attention to little local wars, because they cannot find Kosovo on a map. Reuters downgraded its earlier story that Gates said Microsoft had made a "settlement offer" to there being "ongoing discussions". Microsoft's "settlement proposal", as Dow Jones was calling it, apparently runs to four pages and concedes exclusionary or near-exclusionary behaviour in contracts with ISPs, ICPs and software developers. Gates said in a CBC TV interview promoting his book that "we'd love to settle this thing if there's any reasonable settlement [sic -- this is nonsensical]. Our lawyers are in constant contact with the government lawyers". Judge Jackson will hold a status hearing on 31 March to review when the trial will recommence. It could be in May if his present case runs on, but will not be before mid-April. ® Complete Register trial coverage

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