January 18, 2000
Microsoft fires back at federal prosecutors and Judge Jackson in filing its proposed "conclusions of law." The voluminous document cites more than 20 years of precedents to argue that, in legal terms, the software giant did not violate two sections of the Sherman Act. As expected, Microsoft argues that even if Jackson's findings are accepted as fact, the government failed to satisfy the burden of proof necessary under antitrust law.
February 1, 2000
The Software and Information Industry Association files a "friend of the court" brief on behalf of the Justice Department, while the Association for Competitive Technology files one supporting Microsoft. The briefs are not mandatory or binding on the parties involved, but they serve to illuminate or advise on points of law.
February 16, 2000
Reports of the government's determination to break up Microsoft stall ongoing settlement talks. Sources say federal and state authorites involved in the case are no longer united in seeking the break-up, lending support to Microsoft's stance accepting "common-sense" restrictions on its business conduct.
February 22, 2000
Microsoft and government lawyers deliver closing oral arguments in the case, summarizing the positions laid out in weeks of testimony and mounds of documents. Meanwhile, off-and-on settlement talks continue in Chicago.
March 7, 2000
Government concessions may soon allow Microsoft to agree to a settlement, analysts say after a briefing with the company's new chief financial officer. "The feeling was there was a near-term opportunity to have this settled, some language being given that they wouldn't have any change in culture or structure," said Walter Winnitzki, a well-known software analyst with Chase Hambrecht & Quist.
March 22, 2000
Assistant Attorney General Joel Klein tells a congressional committee that any remedy in the Microsoft antitrust case must be commensurate with the seriousness of the firm's actions. "The findings of fact reveal a serious pattern of anti-competitive conduct," Klein says. "I think that a remedy ought to be commensurate with those practices."
March 25, 2000
With days to go before Judge Jackson's deadline for handing down a ruling in the case, Microsoft faxes a detailed settlement proposal to lawyers for the government. Government sources say the offer includes few surprises and "doesn't go far enough."
April 2, 2000
Declaring that talks are at an impasse, Judge Richard Posner ends his role as mediator between Microsoft and the Justice Department. The unexpected move opens the door for a court decision on the case.
April 4, 2000
U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson issues a long anticipated ruling in the antitrust case. Main points outline what antitrust laws Microsoft violated, based on the judge's findings of fact issued in November.
April 5, 2000
After meeting with lawyers from both sides, U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson says he will determine penalties against Microsoft for antitrust violations within 60 days. A hearing is set for May 24.
April 12, 2000
Assistant attorney general Joel Klein says the government is still considering a Microsoft breakup. He later defends the Microsoft prosecution before the House of Representatives, assuring lawmakers, "We don't single out targets."
April 28, 2000
The Justice Department and state attorneys general recommend that Microsoft be broken into two companies, one dealing with operating systems and the other handling all other products. "By turning loose the power of competition in the operating system business, it will stimulate innovation throughout the industry," Klein says. Microsoft says such action would hurt consumers and the high-tech industry. The antitrust case also has hurt Microsoft's stock, resulting in chairman Bill Gates falling behind Oracle CEO Larry Ellison to become the world's second-richest man.
May 3, 2000
Microsoft sends a letter to shareholders asking them to lobby elected representatives against the breakup proposal, part of a renewed effort to sway public and official opinion toward the software giant.
May 10, 2000
Microsoft files its own proposed remedy, offering to change some business practices in exchange for the government dropping its breakup plan. The changes include giving PC makers more control over the initial screen people see when they boot up and releasing a version of Windows with Internet Explorer hidden. The software giant also asks for up to six months to prepare for a penalty trial in the event Judge Jackson dismisses the company's proposal.
May 17, 2000
The Department of Justice files a rebuttal deriding Microsoft's proposal as "neither serious nor sensible."
May 22, 2000
Microsoft gets in the last word before the penalty hearing with a surprise rebuttal in which it claims the Justice Department's current stance conflicts with a 1995 decision in which it argued that breaking up the company was not in the public's best interest.
May 24, 2000
Microsoft and government lawyers attend a hearing in Washington before U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson. At the hearing, Jackson shows favor toward a brief that suggests a Microsoft three-way split. Jackson asks for a final remedy proposal from the government camp by May 26.
May 26, 2000
The government refiles a proposal to break Microsoft into two pieces, clearing the way for a final ruling in the case. The filing makes only modest changes to an original government proposal to split Microsoft, submitted April 28.
May 31, 2000
Microsoft responds to the government for the last time before a federal ruling in the case. The company slams the government's proposal to break it up, calling the move "extreme."
June 1, 2000
Jackson permits a government request for more legal briefs in the trial, delaying a ruling that had been scheduled. Government lawyers request an opportunity to respond to Microsoft's filing, which proposed substantive changes to the government's remedy plan.
June 5, 2000
The government gives little ground to Microsoft in a court filing that addresses ways to break up the software giant. The DOJ and 19 states accept fewer than 20 changes and object to more than 80 of the 100-plus alterations proposed by Microsoft in its filing May 31.
June 7, 2000
Jackson rules that Microsoft should be broken into two companies, one selling operating systems and the other applications and related services. He also imposes significant restrictions on Microsoft's business conduct. "Microsoft as it is presently organized and led is unwilling to accept the notion that it broke the law or accede to an order amending its conduct," Jackson writes. Microsoft requests the orders be stayed pending appeal of the case.
June 13, 2000
Government lawyers petition the U.S. Supreme Court for a direct appeal of the case. The high court is seen as a more favorable venue for the government than the U.S. District Court of Appeals, where Microsoft argues the appeal belongs.
June 20, 2000
Jackson approves direct appeal of the case to the Supreme Court but issues an indefinite stay of the business restrictions he ordered against Microsoft.
August 28, 2000
The Supreme Court leaves the Microsoft appeal off its current docket but could include it in its next list of cases.
September 8, 2000
The high court again passes on the cases, delaying any decision until October.
September 19, 2000
Assistant Attorney General Joel Klein, the main figure in the U.S. Department of Justice's pursuit of Microsoft, announces he is leaving the department.
September 26, 2000
The Supreme Court rejects the Microsoft appeal, sending it to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The appellate court moves quickly, ordering Microsoft to file a proposed appeals schedule within a week.
October 11, 2000
The appeals court reconciles conflicting schedule requests from Microsoft and the DOJ, setting a date of Feb. 9, 2001, for final briefs to be submitted and oral arguments on Feb. 26 and 27.
November 3, 2000
America Online joins several technology trade groups in filing a pro-government brief in the appeal.
November 27, 2000
Microsoft files a stinging legal brief attacking numerous points of Jackson's ruling and questioning the judge's courtroom procedures and objectivity.
December 27, 2000
Antitrust experts say George W. Bush's inauguration as president and his likely selection of conservative Sen. John Ashcroft as attorney general are unlikely to offer much direct benefit to Microsoft in the antirust case.