Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson delayed delivering his conclusions of law in the Microsoft case because the court mediator hopes to find a settlement between the two sides.

The delay gives the parties involved - the US Department of Justice (DOJ), 19 US states and Microsoft an opportunity to reach a settlement. The Times reports that Judge Jackson will not deliver his conclusions until Friday, April 7 at the earliest.

If settlement is reached before the judge issues his conclusions of law, the case is over. Microsoft issued a settlement proposal over the weekend, but the offer didn't meet the DOJ's approval, according to reports

Posner's timetable for resolving the case reportedly states that if Microsoft and the DOJ fail to find a settlement within a week, his mediation efforts will stop, the Times article said. Should the two sides reach agreement on a settlement proposal, the other proponents in the case - the 19 US state attorneys general - will have two days to approve it, says the Times. Settlement talks began in November last year.

Once the conclusions of law are issued, the stage will be set to consider remedies for the case, these could involve the break-up of Microsoft.