Microsoft Files Final Rebuttal, Awaits Possible Breakup Order - InformationWeek

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Microsoft Files Final Rebuttal, Awaits Possible Breakup Order

Microsoft today filed its final rebuttal to the government's plan to divide the company, telling the court that such an outcome to its years-long antitrust trial would injure the U.S. economy and be so vague as to be unenforceable.

The 19-page document was a response to last week's final proposal by the Justice Department and the states suing Microsoft. That proposal calls for the software company to be split into units, one responsible for the operating system and one for application software sales. In today's "offer of proof" brief, Microsoft maintained that "the relief requested by the government is extreme and unjustified," while asking Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson to give the company one year to devise a breakup plan, instead of the four months the government has recommended. Jackson is widely expected to issue a breakup order--perhaps as soon as this week--after which Microsoft has said it will appeal, either to an appellate court or directly to the Supreme Court. Though Jackson would likely order Microsoft to submit a plan for restructuring, Microsoft hopes it never gets that far.

Last week, Jackson abruptly halted hearings on remedies in the trial after one day of testimony, short-circuiting Microsoft's plans to enter more evidence and setting the stage for a ruling. In its filing today, Microsoft outlined the testimony of seven witnesses it would have called, including Compaq CEO Michael Capellas; DreamWorks SKG officer Jeffrey Katzenberg; and John Whitacre, Nordstrom Inc.'s chairman and CEO. Microsoft said the executives would have testified that a breakup of Microsoft would hurt their companies and industries.

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