US District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson later Wednesday was to announce his decision on whether Microsoft should be dismantled in order to correct antitrust violations.
The judge's remedy ruling was to be made known at 3.00 p.m. (1900 GMT), a court official said.
Jackson has been asked by the Justice Department to split Microsoft into two companies, one to develop and promote the Windows operating system and another to specialize in computer software applications, such as Internet browsing technology.
Microsoft has repeatedly denounced the government plan as unwarranted and extreme and has offered instead to accept limitations on its business practices.
The company has vowed to appeal all aspects of the case, notably the judge's legal conclusions and his denial of Microsoft's request for additional time to prepare a challenge to the breakup proposal.
Legal analysts here expect the Justice Department to exercise an option available to it in antitrust cases and ask that an appeal be sent directly to the US Supreme Court
Such a tactic, assuming the Supreme Court accepts the case, would bypass the federal appellate court, which in an earlier matter ruled in favor of Microsoft and against the government.
In courtroom proceedings last month, Jackson expressed an interest in the government's breakup proposal. At one point he asked government attorneys if they had considered splitting Microsoft into three parts rather than two, with the third company specializing in Internet browsers.
The Justice Department said the option had been considered but had been rejected as too complicated to implement.
Jackson on April 3 ruled that Microsoft had abused the monopoly position it enjoys in the market for personal computer operating systems -- thanks to Windows -- to stifle competition.
He also found that the company had sought to monopolize the Internet browser sector and had unlawfully integrated its Explorer browser into Windows in order to harm software rivals.
Microsoft has rejected such findings, insisting that its business practices have been aggressive but fair and that it had bundled the browser into Windows to meet consumer needs - WASHINGTON (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)