Brace yourselves: MS remedy day nears

Wednesday is R-day - remedy hearing day - for Microsoft and the government in the antitrust trial of the new millennium, and almost anything can happen

It's back to US District Court on Wednesday for the various parties involved in the 2-year-old US Department of Justice vs. Microsoft antitrust case.

Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson will conduct a one-day remedy hearing on Wednesday -- an event in which almost anything might happen.

According to a story this week in The Washington Post, the judge is allowing both the government and Microsoft one hour each to present their final remedy-related remarks.

Following that, the judge is slated to lay out a timetable for the rest of the remedies process. It's uncertain if the judge will grant Microsoft's request for more time and additional hearings before entering his final remedy recommendation.

Microsoft asked the judge for 10 weeks of preparation time if he is considering granting only the government's proposed "conduct" remedies -- in that case, Microsoft wants a "brief" remedy trial to begin on August 7.

If the court dismisses the government's demand that Microsoft be broken up into smaller companies, but still entertains the idea of requiring Microsoft to open its application programming interfaces, the software giant is seeking four more months of discovery, preparation and pre-trial motions, with a remedy trial beginning October 2.

Finally, if the judge considers granting the government's Microsoft-breakup request, the company has sought a six-month extension, during which it could prepare for a remedy trial that would start on December 4.

Judge Jackson indicated earlier this spring that he is in favour of fast-tracking the case. Microsoft has said it plans to appeal the judge's ruling and remedy, which he is expected to issue some time in the next few months.

On Monday, the court agreed to allow the Computer and Communications Industry Association and the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) to file friend-of-the-court briefs in the case.

Both trade groups have come down hard against Microsoft during the trial.

The SIIA already filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the government's case earlier this year, prior to Jackson's issuance of his conclusions of law.

The remedy hearing is slated to commence on Wednesday, May 24, at 10 a.m. ET.

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