Although Microsoft has no alternative but to fight the anti-trust case on its own merits, it will be hoping a new rival will enter the market to water down its alleged monopoly position. That rival could be Linux, says industry analyst Dataquest.
Following a flood of articles that suggest Microsoft is about to cave in against the DoJ in America, Dataquest analyst Paolo Puppoli says the software giant could opt to buy time by going for an appeals strategy.
"A new operating system would work in Microsoft's favour" says Puppoli. "Should Linux become a real competitor to Microsoft then clearly that shows the conditions for a monopoly don't exist."
With the growing popularity of the Linux operating system and the plans to bring it to the desktop, the tiny operating system could work against the DoJ's case and help save Microsoft.
Deciding whether Microsoft is guilty of monopolising the software market is going to take time, says Puppoli: "If Microsoft appeals, we are looking at three or four years before action is taken." Describing the move as a damage limitation exercise, Puppoli says Microsoft will be able to "grab additional time", exactly what the DoJ doesn't want.
Joel Lustig agrees that a long drawn out appeals process will undermine the DoJ's apparent advantage. "Something like Linux can appear overnight," says Lustig, "if Linux becomes more forceful in certain fields it will certainly add weight to Microsoft's case."
Lustig believes the DoJ risks all if Microsoft's predicted appeal goes ahead: "The longer it drags on, the more likely it becomes that the Justice Department would decide not to carry on." Citing IBM's twelve year battle with the Department of Justice Lustig says, "in the end the Justice department just said there is no point to this'".