Microsoft’s request for more time to submit a plan if the US court orders a company break-up was rejected, yesterday, by the US government.

In its most recent filing last week, Microsoft suggested that it have a year to file its plan for splitting the company in two, and that it need only file memos describing business agreements between the two halves. The Department of Justice (DOJ) and 17 state attorneys general said yesterday that such a waiting period is "unwarranted".

Yesterday’s document was a response to Microsoft's revised proposal regarding remedies in the case. Microsoft has until Wednesday to respond to the government filing, which notes that "many" of Microsoft's comments in its last court brief go beyond addressing remedy proposals, and instead are arguments that the company has already raised and that have been countered by the plaintiffs.

Nit picking There are few surprises in the government brief, which delves into semantics, with the plaintiffs agreeing with Microsoft’s request to call the proposed break-up of the company a "divestiture" rather than a "reorganization", for instance.

The DOJ and 17 of 19 state attorneys general who filed the suit against Microsoft have recommended that Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson order the company be split in two, with one entity focused on operating systems and another on other software applications. Microsoft opposes that plan, though it has said it will agree to behavioural remedies.

Judge Jackson has ruled that Microsoft is a monopoly and illegally used its monopoly power in the operating-systems market in an attempt to squelch competition and to make inroads into other markets - notably Internet browser software.

End in sight He is expected to issue his final ruling, which will list the remedies he wants imposed on Microsoft, this week. Jackson is widely viewed as having made his decision.

"He seems to me like a man who is desperately trying to catch a train," Bill Kovacic, a law professor at George Washington University, said of Jackson and the speed with which he is pushing along the remedy phase.

Kovacic expects that the government brief filed today will wind up being the final remedy ruling from Jackson. He predicted that Jackson will "take the government's revised order and sign it".