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Microsoft Rethinking Settlement Offer?

The <I>Wall Street Journal</i> reported Thursday that Microsoft plans to make further "substantial" offers in its attempt to settle the government's antitrust case against it.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Microsoft plans to make further "substantial" offers in its attempt to settle the government's antitrust case against it.

According to the WSJ, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer sent an email Monday to Microsoft employees stating: "We have made, and will continue to make, substantial proposals to settle this case." The email added that the company's top hierarchy, including Chairman Bill Gates, is working "hard and creatively" to reach an agreement.

Still, doubts exist whether any Microsoft offer will be enough to satisfy the U.S. Department of Justice and the 19 states suing the company. Federal and state officials have repeatedly said that any settlement must be enforceable and create a level playing field for Microsoft's competitors. Late last week Microsoft proposed a settlement offer that reportedly promised, among other things, to separate Internet Explorer from Windows and provide competitors access to Windows' source code. But after reviewing the proposal the Justice Department rejected it as inadequate. Following this, the government and Microsoft extended their secret settlement talks into next week after a decision by the federal judge hearing the case, Thomas Penfield Jackson, to delay any ruling until at least that time.

In Ballmer's email, according to the WSJ, the Microsoft executive also said that Microsoft prefers to reach a settlement but is ready to take the case "all the way on appeal." Noted Ballmer: We believe we've put more on the table than the judicial process would ultimately provide, even if we lost the case."

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