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MS lost the verdict, but it's winning the trial

The DoJ calls for speed; but friends, it's not happening...

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MS on Trial In response to what was in effect a Microsoft bid to extend the antitrust appeals process into a retrial earlier this week, the DoJ has filed its response early, calling for - as expected - a rather shorter appeals schedule. But although Microsoft hasn't won its retrial, it can glean some satisfaction from the current state of the case; even by sticking to the DoJ's schedule the process goers into next year, and a new US administration.

That may or may not help Microsoft. George W Bush may be personally less inclined to hunt the company down than Al Gore is, but even if he wins it'll be a big jump from that to actually intervening. Still, it's another possible shot in Microsoft's legal locker. The company can also congratulate itself on its success in surviving an 'urgent, expedited' trial for so long, unscathed.

Two years ago Judge Jackson seemed to be thinking in terms of months rather than years, but somehow that didn't happen. The failure to get the Supreme Court to hear the appeal first also extended the trial more than a little, and although the DoJ is now showing willing by filing (two days) early, and calling for speed, the difference at the moment is between January and March/April for oral arguments in the case.

If the appeals court goes with Microsoft, then there is some chance of the company succeeding in reopening most of the trial. If it goes for a compromise, then we're headed towards March anyway. And even if it votes for the DoJ 100 per cent, the appeal extends well into next year, and if Microsoft loses there's still the Supreme Court.

That's before any unplanned for matters (or delaying tactics - take your pick) manifest themselves during the process. Microsoft may have comprehensively lost the trial, its lawyers and witnesses may have blown it at every available opportunity, but it hasn't a scratch on anything, apart from its reputation; nor will it have for a long while to come. So again, who was it that won? ®

Related story:
MS bids to stretch appeal to mid-2001, documentation to moon

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