WSJ: MS and the DOJ to hold settlement talks

Microsoft Corp. and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) plan to meet this week in the first face-to-face discussions since a federal appeals court decision unanimously declared the software company a monopolist but declined to affirm an order to break the company apart, according to news reports.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the meeting is expected to focus largely on procedural issues. Citing anonymous sources close to the case, the Journal said Microsoft intends to aggressively pursue a litigation strategy, while the DOJ plans to ask the appeals court to send the case back to a new federal judge for final proceedings on a remedy for Microsoft's behavior.

Likely participants in the talk include Charles James, head of the DOJ antitrust division, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, and Microsoft lawyers from the Wall Street firm of Sullivan & Cromwell, according to the Journal. Expectations of success are low, and the participants will likely work only on basic issues in the discussion without proposing draft settlement language, people close to the case said in the story.

The DOJ asked the U.S. District Court of Appeals on July 13 to send the case back to trial quickly, a move Microsoft opposed in a request to the court on Friday. On Wednesday, Microsoft petitioned the appeals court to re-hear a narrow portion of the case, regarding the decision that Microsoft illegally "commingled" its Internet Explorer software code with other Windows 98 software code, claiming that "critical evidence was overlooked -- or misinterpreted," by the appeals court.

Microsoft announced earlier this month that it would allow computer makers more freedom to remove Internet Explorer and add icons to the desktop in the Windows operating system when its Windows XP operating system is released later this year.

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