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Microsoft filing deadline extended again

For the second time in a week, the software giant and the government receive an extension in an important court filing--apparently necessary after last week's terrorist attacks.

For the second time in a week, Microsoft and the government received an extension in an important court filing.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly has reset the deadline for a joint status report originally due Sept. 14. That deadline has now been extended until Thursday, and a hearing originally scheduled for Friday will take place on Sept. 28.

Both Microsoft and the Justice Department are apparently grappling with the effects of last week's devastating attacks in Washington and in New York.

Government buildings in the nation's capital were temporarily evacuated following Tuesday's attacks, and the Justice Department increasingly has been focusing resources on the manhunt for additional terrorists and for accomplices to the 19 who crashed hijacked aircraft into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.

Microsoft's lead counsel, Sullivan Cromwell, last week evacuated its main office near the ruined World Trade Center. The office, along with many others on Wall Street, reopened on Monday.

"In light of recent tragic events affecting the nation, the Court has received various requests for extensions of time," Kollar-Kotelly wrote in Monday's order changing the schedule. "Specifically, all of the parties have requested an extension of time for the filing of the Joint Status Report."

Besides those requests, "defendant Microsoft has requested that the Status Conference date be vacated and rescheduled for a later date in order to facilitate travel by counsel," the order continued. "Both the United States and the (18) states have consented to this request."

As the case returns to trial court, Microsoft last week tried to return the focus to the Supreme Court. The Redmond, Wash.-based company slammed a government brief urging the Supreme Court to reject a request for appeal.

Microsoft wants the nation's highest court to throw out U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's two-part ruling upheld by seven appellate jurists in June. Microsoft contends Jackson making out-of-court comments to the media before drafting the ruling warrants Supreme Court review.

In the meantime, proceedings before Kollar-Kotelly are expected to continue, with the government preparing to ask for additional discovery about Microsoft technologies and business practices since the trial ended before Jackson last year.

Emmett Stanton, an antitrust lawyer with Fenwick and West in Palo Alto, Calif., said the joint status report would be important for establishing a schedule for future proceedings.

"I think the government is probably going to take the position they can be ready in weeks or months to propose the specific remedies and have Microsoft argue why those shouldn't be imposed," he said.

Kollar-Kotelly is drafting a new remedy because the Court of Appeals threw out Jackson's break-up remedy and ordered he be removed from the case for his out-of-court comments.

Kollar-Kotelly picked up the landmark case in a random ballot last month. The judge's main task will be drafting a new remedy to deal with the eight separate antitrust violations upheld by the Court of Appeals.

Among those violations:
• Exclusive deals with PC makers to carry Microsoft products.
• Overriding users' choices to use Navigator
• Intermingling of Windows and browser code so that Internet Explorer could not be deleted.
• Deals with 14 out of the top 15 ISPs for exclusive promotion of Internet Explorer.
• Exclusive contracts with some developers to create software that would make Internet Explorer the default browser.
• Making Internet Explorer the exclusive browser for Apple Computer, in part by threatening to end Office development for the Mac.
• Deceiving Java developers into believing Microsoft's Java was cross-platform when it was not.
• Compelling Intel to abandon its own version of cross-platform of Java.

Stanton said he expects the government will likely "do things in two stages." The government may seek immediate restrictions on Microsoft's business practices to address clear-cut past violations and "then something looking at XP and some other Microsoft initiatives."