Night of the Living Antitrust Case

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WASHINGTON: It's alive! The government's antitrust case against Microsoft lumbers on Wednesday, despite the stake driven into its heart by the $4.2 billion deal between Netscape, America Online and Sun Microsystems. Redmond's legal team tried its best to kill the beast Tuesday, arguing that the formation of what was effectively a two-party system in the software industry made government regulation irrelevant. But the beast refused to die. "If I'm counting it right, [that's] the sixth time during the trial that Microsoft has pronounced the government's case dead," said chief Justice Department attorney David Boies, veteran of that other antitrust suit that wouldn't lie down -- the one against IBM. "The government's case is very much alive."

To be fair to Boies et al, the DOJ still has plenty of juicy material to feed on. Its latest witness, economist Frederick Warren-Boulton, brought out one tasty tidbit Tuesday: Microsoft, he said, had an "astonishing" 38.5 percent profit margin -- more than any other high-tech firm in the Fortune 500. How, then, can this company claim that it doesn't derive benefits from its monopoly position? After all, there's one thing the AOL deal hasn't changed: 89 percent of those Netscape browsers are going to be viewed on a Microsoft-operated machine. Windows, too, is a beast that will not die.