DOJ sticks to 2-way split as Microsoft postpones NGWS briefing

The U.S. government filed a revised remedy proposal on Friday, choosing to keep its plan to split Microsoft Corporation in two, rather than opt for the more complicated three-way split that Judge Jackson seemed to prefer. The revision, which was requested earlier in the week by Jackson, includes a number of small technical changes and calls for Microsoft's business practices to be restricted immediately. At the remedy hearing last week, Jackson hinted that he would issue his final judgment this week, after he abruptly halted the trial for good and denied Microsoft's request for a continuance. The judge had earlier found the company guilty of violating U.S. antitrust laws when it protected and extended its Windows monopoly.

The government's plan to split Microsoft would create two new companies, one that sells Windows and one that sells all of Microsoft's other products, primarily Office. Judge Jackson joined a host of other critics of the plan, however, when he noted that the plan leaves Microsoft's two monopolies intact, while the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) feels that such a breakup would create two "vigorously competing" companies. The DOJ argues that a separated Office company would be able to create versions of its products for competing operating systems once it was free from being forced to protect the Windows monopoly.

Microsoft will respond to the revised version of the plan on Wednesday. But the timing of the legal filings combined with strong hints from Jackson of a quick judgment have caused to company to once again delay a meeting in which it will finally disclose detailed technical information about its plans for the future. "There are strong indications that the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., may enter its final decree, an event we feel would distract attention and focus from our event," Microsoft said in a statement. Microsoft had scheduled its Forum 2000 event for Thursday, where it was to have discussed its upcoming Next-Generation Windows Services (NGWS), a suite of technologies and services built on Windows 2000 that will take Microsoft from its current focus on desktop computing into a distributed computing future. The event, which was delayed until June 22nd, had already been delayed once by the company, which seems to be struggling with its vision for NGWS. Chairman Bill Gates is apparently guiding the development of this set of products, his first hands-on work with development teams in over a decade. Whether this new delay represents a bid to find fine-tune NGWS remains to be seen, but indications from Redmond suggest that the NGWS vision is muddled indeed

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