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The Justice Department today fought to resuscitate a proposed antitrust settlement with the software giant Microsoft Corp, asking an appeals court to overturn federal Judge Stanley Sporkin''s rejection of the deal. Attorney General Janet Reno rebuked Sporkin, saying he had overstepped his authority by partially basing his decision on business practices that were not included in the government''s formal charges against Microsoft. If Judge Sporkin''s ruling stands, it could prompt a tougher settlement, requiring Microsoft to let competitors write software for its operating systems, which run some 80 percent of all personal computers. "You have this really bizarre scenario in which the trust-busters have gone to bed with the trust to protect themselves from a maverick judge who is calling it the way it really is," says TIME technology editor Philip Elmer-Dewitt.