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Microsoft DoJ pantomime enters final scene

"We'll split you up", "Oh no you won't", "Oh yes we will"

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With the DoJ's anti-trust boys really having to give their final final proposal for the future of Microsoft by Friday, it's good to see the company's uniquely confident attitude remains unaltered. Following fairly heavy speculation that The Beast of Redmond is to be split up - thereby making it worthwhile for anyone else to produce office software or a competing operating system - Steven Ballmer, M$'s top dog, confidently informed employees that it was never going to happen. His email also said new stock options would be made available to cover the recent slump in the company's share price. The email, entitled "Bullish About the Future", was Microsoft at its best. "This company, which has done so many great things for consumers and for the American economy over the last 25 years, will not be broken up," Ballmer said. "No matter what the newspaper headlines say, absolutely nothing in the current case justifies breaking us up." While it seems unlikely that most people would agree with Steve on the justification issue, you have to admire his strength in the face of opposition. Cornered by the US government, IT press and just about every aware consumer, he must be feeling the heat. Much as it would pain competitors to admit it, they'd love a CEO with as much courage. They don't call him "Ball"mer for nothing - he must have trouble walking. Of course, none of this changes the fact that Microsoft has viciously, maliciously and, darn it, ingeniously tied up virtually all the fundamentals for running a computer in the modern world. Even the most anti-Microsoft individual will admit to grudging respect for the giant. Without its looming presence, it is arguable that the rest of the computing world would never have moved so swiftly to the creation of common standards. The question now though is: Will the DoJ show as much fortitude as Ballmer has when it makes its recommendations? Will it push us into a new age of computing by opening up those last few doors, or will it cower slightly and set the status quo for the next ten years? ®

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