The US Government?s antitrust trial against Microsoft, which was set to resume on 12 April after a six week recess, has now been delayed until 10 May at the earliest.
But the delay may help Microsoft reach a deal with the US Department of Justice (DoJ) and 19 States that filed the lawsuit against it.
Settlement talks started on Tuesday, when Microsoft lawyers met with DoJ and State officials for two hours. While both parties refused to comment on the talks, they are believed to be poles apart, and an initial settlement proposal by Microsoft was dubbed "inadequate" by one State Attorney General last week.
The current six week break in the trial came about because several of the attorneys involved had prearranged to appear at other trials.
Before the recess, Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson admonished both sides to "use the time wisely," but a further delay had been anticipated for some weeks because the criminal case he is currently hearing is taking longer than expected.
By 23 April, each party must file a list of three rebuttal witnesses, which will be heard when the case resumes. This may take several weeks, after which each side will have 30 days to prepare a "finding of fact".
A final decision in the case is not now expected until the autumn. When the trial started in October 1998, it was expected to last up to 8 weeks.
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