Microsoft: Let's forget this ever happened

Paging Will Smith! We think Microsoft wants to borrow the memory-erasing gadget from Men in Black.

          Paging Will Smith! We think Microsoft wants to borrow the memory-erasing gadget from Men in Black.

          MS has asked the US Supreme Court to erase all of Judge Jackson's legal and factual antitrust findings. And if the courts could put off all antitrust proceedings until the Supremes get back from recess - around the time Windows XP comes out - that would help, too.

          To review: An appeals court recently said Jackson wasn't actually biased, even though he said some things that made him look that way. So the appeals court tossed out Jackson's proposed remedy (a Microsoft breakup), but unanimously upheld his ruling that Microsoft is a monopoly. But looks are enough, said MS, and a Supreme Court review "is important to restoring public confidence in the integrity of the judicial system." When Microsoft is done making us feel good about the legal system, could it order up some world peace?

          Some of Jackson's remarks would imply an "appearance of bias" even to the staunchest Microsoft-hater, but some outlets made them sound worse than others. For instance, Newsbytes said Jackson "compared Microsoft executives to a murderous street gang." The New York Times said Jackson "compared some Microsoft email messages to intercepted conversations of drug traffickers, who 'never figure out that they shouldn't be saying certain things on the phone.'"

          News.com said Microsoft's Supreme Court play was "widely anticipated," and the Times said it was a "surprise." Many observers agreed that, surprise or not, this looks an awful lot like a stalling tactic. Microsoft wants to call a time-out until the Supreme Court responds to its latest request. The Supreme Court is in recess until early October (though it could decide to take the case before that). And Windows XP, the operating system that government lawyers may try to block from release, is scheduled to be released on October 25.

          Or is it? The last sentence of a Wall Street Journal article said "some personal-computer makers now say they will ship machines with the new software as much as a month earlier." News.com devoted an article to that possibility, which "could help jump-start stagnant (PC) sales," and prevent a potential anti-XP injunction.

          Microsoft may want to induce some legal amnesia, but so far, the memories of at least two reporters are just fine. The New York Times' Stephen Labaton reminded us that MS is asking the Supremes to review an appeals court decision that, seven weeks ago, it "applauded ... as a victory of extraordinary proportions." The Seattle Times' John Hendred also pointed out that the company had "portrayed (the ruling) as a victory."

          We advise them to beware of men in dark suits.

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