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MS on Trial The Microsoft mediation attempt will start next Tuesday in Chicago, and effectively if a solution is to be found, it will have to be found by 31st January, according to a source. This deadline is rather tighter than might be expected, and a lot tighter than would suit Microsoft. Judge Jackson is holding his hearing on the findings of law on 22nd February, and this in itself limits Microsoft's ability to drag mediation talks out. But it's also unlikely that mediator Judge Posner, Chief Judge of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, would allow Microsoft to engage in the stunts that were used in May 1997 when the DoJ was negotiating with Microsoft without a mediator. Then, whenever some progress seemed to have been made, Bill Gates would veto concessions and the talks would go back to the beginning. On one occasion, the DoJ team was waiting on a very humid day for the Microsoft team to turn up at the Department of Justice building, while the Microsoft team was in an air-conditioned conference room at its lawyers' offices awaiting the DoJ. It took some considerable time before there was contact and the DoJ team joined Microsoft, but it has never been established whether this was gamesmanship or a genuine mistake. The mediation in Chicago at the courthouse will follow the rules of the seventh circuit, which require that there be no release of information by either side during the talks. ® Complete Register Trial coverage

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