Judge Jackson Installs a Backup File

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Well, we've waited this long.... With Redmond, Silicon Valley, Washington and Wall Street all waiting with bated breath for Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's ruling that Microsoft be torn asunder, the judge raised his gavel Thursday and... gave both sides some more time to think. The government has until Monday to respond to the software giant's latest response, filed Wednesday, and Microsoft has until June 7 to respond to that response to its response. Is either side making any significant concessions? Nope. Will an extra week of crossfire do anything to change the judge's apparent desire to cleave the company? Nope. But like a long black robe, the delay may go some way toward covering a certain jurist's rear end.

"When Judge Jackson last week denied Microsoft a chance to call new witnesses to rebut the government's breakup plan, he wasn't wrong — trial judges have a lot of discretion on how they run their cases, and he had justification for saying that Microsoft had had their chance," says TIME legal correspondent Adam Cohen. "But he may have left himself vulnerable to the appeals court, which is likely to be more sympathetic to Microsoft and any argument they made that Jackson had denied them due process." This way, Jackson's a little better covered. If the appeals court or the Supreme Court wants to rebuff his forthcoming ruling (now due late next week), they won't be as likely to do it on a technicality, which could result in the case being sent back to Jackson for repairs. After all this time, that's the last thing Jackson wants.