The real battle between the DOJ and Microsoft begins this week, when both sides appear before US District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson to begin oral arguments over remedies.

Microsoft’s remedy plan for its antitrust case, has been criticized as "cosmetic" by the US Department of Justice (DOJ).

The DOJ also said the proposal was "incapable of undoing the harm" caused by Microsoft’s business practices.

Later this week, both sides will begin oral arguments in the case. Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson who ruled that Microsoft violated antitrust law, set Wednesday as the first hearing date in the remedy process. Microsoft wants delays in order to prepare witnesses and evidence to reject the government's proposed break-up of the company, which would separate its applications from its operating systems business.

Microsoft says it needs months to defend itself, the government wants the remedy phase wrapped up in a matter of weeks. Jackson may decide the issue this week.

For the most part, end users don't support the government's plan to split Microsoft into two companies, according to a Computerworld poll of information-technology professionals.

Only 23 per cent of those surveyed last week favoured the government's proposal to separate Microsoft's operating system business from its applications business. 48 per cent favoured Microsoft's counter-remedy, according to a survey of 104 IT managers at companies of more than 500 employees. The remainder were split among a variety of other options.

Sam Gius, information systems director at Foster Electric America, an Illinois-based manufacturer of speakers for automobiles, is among those who support a break-up.

Gius said: "Just putting restrictions on how you do things leaves too many holes - who is going to police it?"

Microsoft has offered to release technical information and interfaces to independent developers in a timely manner, as well as to allow PC makers to make a non-Microsoft browser the default browser. It would also make older versions of Windows available at no increase in royalties.