Microsoft Case: Sleepless in Redmond

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WASHINGTON: It's going to be a sleepless summer for Microsoft. In the spirit of the entire Windows/Explorer row, Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson has decided to bundle his court dates together. He'll now begin hearing both the Justice Department's request for an injunction against Win98 and the entire antitrust case on the same day -- September 8. While the DOJ was hoping for an immediate injunction, it's happy with a quick two-for-the-price-of-one trial. "It lays to rest any comparison with the IBM case," said Justice counsel David Boise. Indeed, everyone involved will be glad not to suffer a repeat of Big Blue's 15-year court battle -- except, perhaps, for the trial lawyers.

For Microsoft, it's a bitterly phyrric victory. Windows 98 will ship on June 15, and the marketing blitz will be launched ten days later. But a mere three months of sales down the road, Redmond gets hauled before the judge -- potentially, to get its browser ripped out for good. "This is a very fast track," says antitrust law expert William Kovacic. "For a monopoly case, the time to trial is routinely a minimum of two to three years." William Neukom and the rest of Redmond's legal team had better put the coffee on.