Ed Driscoll


LONG AWAITED MICROSOFT DECISION DUE OUT TOMORROW AFTERNOON: U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, the federal judge overseeing a remedy in the Microsoft Corp. antitrust case will issue her opinion late tomorrow afternoon, the court said on Thursday. Judge Kollar-Kotelly gave no hint during the remedy hearing this spring how she might rule, according to this Computer World article, which adds:

Although tomorrow’s decision probably won’t be the end of the Microsoft case, it will be one of its more dramatic turning points in a landmark antitrust case that began in the fall of 1998.

Over a period of four months, Judge Kollar-Kotelly heard from a long list of witnesses over what should be done to satisfy the U.S. Court of Appeals decision that Microsoft illegally maintained its operating system monopoly.

Depending on how Kollar-Kotelly rules, either the nonsettling states that refused to go along with a deal between the Department of Justice and Microsoft reached last year, the U.S., or the company itself may appeal tomorrow’s ruling.

This remedy phase follows an appeals court decision one year ago this month that rejected a lower court ruling to break up the company but upheld a finding that Microsoft had illegally maintained its monopoly in the operating systems market.

Given that it’s a Friday afternoon announcement, which are traditionally designed to reduce media coverage (much like the timing of Emory’s recent issuance of its report on Michael Bellesiles), I wonder in which direction this will break.

I’m not holding my breath for a quick resolution however: I wrote an article almost exactly one year ago titled “Microsoft Endgame?” for National Review. Glad there’s a question mark in the title!

UPDATE: Reuters has more, including a quote from antitrust attorney Steve Axinn, who says:

“She’s got to decide if this settlement meets the (public interest) standard, and if not what it would take to meet the standard.”

Whichever way it goes, Friday’s ruling could be the end of the line in the long-running case.

“If she approves the settlement, that’s it,” said Axinn. On the other hand, any modifications the judge makes to the settlement are unlikely to be overturned on appeal, he said.

“She has broad discretion here,” Axinn said.