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MS on Trial When Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson returned from lunch on Wednesday, he blew Microsoft's mind. The Beast had been busy arguing that it needed a good six months more to mount a proper, lingering defence.

"This case has been pending for two years," a florid Jackson shot back. Then he ordered the US Department of Justice (DoJ) to run up a plan to break the beast into three pieces, separating operating system, applications, and Internet concerns including browser, portal and ISP. He said he wanted it fast, by the end of the week, and gave the company a mere 48 hours to reply.

The most important company in human history had been denied due process, Microsoft lawyers cried.

It was a sunny afternoon in Washington as the flacks gathered on the courthouse steps, eager to spin the day's events.

"It was incumbent upon us to inform the court, and the record, that there was a good deal of evidence that we thought was pertinent to the subject of appropriate relief, and to make that a part of the record," Microsoft General Counsel and silver-tongued-devil William Neukom sniffed at a press conference outside the courthouse.

The vultures circled with delight. "Not only will the world not end if there is a break-up of Microsoft, but it will be a much better world for the industry, for consumers and for innovation," Computer and Communications Industry Association spokesman Ed Black commented.

The CCIA assisted in drafting the brief of Amici Curiae which originally suggested to Judge Jackson the undeniable charm of a three-way break-up.

DoJ lawyer David Boies said the Department would have the requested paperwork in Jackson's hands by Friday. He seemed not at all distressed, suggesting that the DoJ might just have seen fit to get such a document ready in draft form, set to go after a bit of buffing. He would not confirm that such a document exists, but we have our suspicions.

One can only hope that the other side condescended to read the enemy Amicus brief, and that it saw fit to anticipate it with a bit of legalistic boilerplate which they can now buff up and submit. Otherwise, the lights are going to be on very late in Redmond. Very late indeed. ®

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