With 11 days to bluster its way out of a record $1 million-per-diem fine, Microsoft undoubtedly has whole rooms of lawyers trawling online law libraries to ready a response to the federal court that will decide its fate.
In public, Gates and his minions are acting hurt. "This action is unfortunate and misguided," said Microsoft spokesman Mark Murray. "The facts will show that Microsoft is in full compliance with the consent decree."
Wan denials are not likely to settle a thorny technological koan: when is a browser not a browser? Microsoft calls its nestled-in Internet Explorer a mere "enhancement" of its ubiquitous Windows 95 platform. But Joel Klein, the trust-busting assistant attorney general, calls it a separate product.
Some experts think it doesn't matter; Microsoft shouldn't be shackled now, they say, just because it won the initial platform war. Gates may have deservedly earned first shot at teaching you to surf his way.
Soon it may not matter. When the distinction between platforms and browsers finally does become as blurry as Gates claims it is now, the Windows monopoly will have lost its teeth. Microsoft's ever-stretching tentacles show that Gates already knows this. Perhaps Joel Klein might pick a better fight elsewhere.
Money Daily recaps yesterday's announcement
Netly News makes a case for Gates