WASHINGTON -- The judge overseeing the Microsoft Corp. antitrust lawsuit said he would rule today in the historic case that could lead to a breakup of the software giant.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson moved swiftly after Microsoft filed a fresh response Tuesday to the Justice Department's plan to divide the corporation into two companies. He announced his final judgment would be made public late this afternoon.
Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates canceled scheduled appearances in Washington today and returned to company headquarters in Redmond, Wash.
In its filing, Microsoft, disdainful of the department's response to the company's earlier concerns, asked Jackson to include previously suggested language that would give a broken-up Microsoft more freedom to enter into agreements with software developers and computer makers.
''Instead of agreeing to correct the many defects in the revised proposed final judgment, and thereby minimize the damage that its entry would inflict on a wide range of participants in the computer industry, the government has agreed to only a few cosmetic changes,'' Microsoft's lawyers wrote.
In the brief, Microsoft also said the Justice Department was, in its recent filing, ''confirming that certain provisions are more extreme than they might appear at first blush'' and ''blithely ignoring substantial problems Microsoft identified regarding the feasibility of complying with many of the provisions as drafted.''
In Washington, Justice Department spokeswoman Gina Talamona dismissed Microsoft's response. ''The filing rehashes Microsoft's old arguments, ignores the extensive violations found by the court, denies the need for serious relief and grossly distorts our proposed remedy,'' she said.
Jackson had been set to rule on the case last week, but the Justice Department asked for more time.
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