No Last-Minute Breakthrough for Microsoft

WASHINGTON -- Settlement talks between the U.S. government and Microsoft Corp. remained at a standstill Sunday, as some negotiators assembled in Chicago over the weekend in case of a last-minute breakthrough in the anti-monopoly case.

But their voyage was seen as little more than a good-faith effort to keep the lines of communication open in the landmark anti-monopoly case, whose outcome is expected to have a significant effect on the booming technology industry.

The U.S. Justice Department polled the District of Columbia and the 19 states over whether they would ask presiding U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson for more time to settle their litigation against the world's most powerful software maker. There was no indication Sunday that they would.

Joel Klein, head of the U.S. Justice Department's anti-monopoly division, was said to be in Washington and industry observers speculated that, even if the parties had moved closer to a deal, it would take several days to iron out the language of any formal settlement accord.

"I have seen no evidence of any movement," said an industry executive who has closely followed the anti-monopoly case.

Judge Jackson told Microsoft and government negotiators last week that, if they didn't make progress in settling their anti-monopoly dispute, he would issue a verdict Tuesday concerning whether Microsoft violated the federal Sherman Antitrust Act.