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Ed Zander, President Sun Microsystems
"We're pretty bullish"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 5 April, 2000, 17:34 GMT 18:34 UK
Microsoft penalty in 60 days
Microsoft's chairman Bill Gates
Bill Gates has vowed to fight the court ruling
Software giant Microsoft has agreed to a speedy sentencing process after it was ruled to have broken US monopoly laws.

The Seattle-based firm and the US Justice Department agreed to fast track the penalty setting phase, after a private meeting with the trial judge Thomas Penfield Jackson.

The Microsoft Trial
The agreement could mean penalties being announced as soon as June.

US District Judge Jackson is reported to have tentatively scheduled the start of penalty-setting hearings for 24 May.

During a private meeting, he gave attorneys for the Justice Department and the 19 states suing Microsoft until the end of this month to submit their proposed remedies.

He gave Microsoft slightly less than two weeks to respond to that proposal, and the government another week for a rebuttal.

Judge Jackson also told those involved that he wanted to "fast track" the appeal directly to the Supreme Court to avoid delays that could "disrupt the economy".

He said he wanted to get the case to an appeal court as quickly as possible, perhaps straight to the Supreme Court, in as few as 60 days.

"My transcendent objective is to get this thing before an appellate tribunal - one or another - as quickly as possible because I don't want to disrupt the economy or waste any more of yours or my time," the judge said according to a transcript of the meeting released late on Tuesday.

Judge's options
Break-up - Split into three - operating systems, applications and internet content
Open source code - Competitors could add or modify Windows to use their own software
Fair pricing - Bar on discounts to firms which exclusively use its software
Baby Bills - Create several identical versions of Microsoft

On Monday Judge Jackson found Microsoft guilty of breaking US anti-trust law by attempting to monopolise the internet browser market.

One of the reasons for his keenness on fast-tracking the process is that Microsoft has said it will appeal against the verdict.

Legal analysts say the case could go all the way to the US Supreme Court, a process which, unless speeded up, could drag on for several years.

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See also:

04 Apr 00 | Business
Microsoft vows to fight on
04 Apr 00 | Business
Microsoft: No longer the biggest
03 Apr 00 | Business
Microsoft found guilty
05 Apr 00 | Microsoft
Industry disagrees on Microsoft
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