Microsoft Trial Date Delayed

Michelle Williams, "Brokeback Mountain."
Focus Features
A federal judge ordered Microsoft on Friday to open up its books to government lawyers who want to prove that Bill Gates' company wields monopoly power in the computer industry.

The judge also delayed the opening of the trial by four days to Oct. 19. The Justice Department and 21 states sued Microsoft (MSFT) in May, charging the software company with maintaining and extending its monopoly.

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The government asked the Redmond, Wash.-based superpower for detailed records about sales of its Windows operating system to the major computer makers, which the government contends were pressured by Microsoft into backing its Internet Explorer over rival Netscape's (NSCP) Navigator browsing software.

Microsoft turned over the financial records, but the government complained that the raw data was meaningless without the software or the expertise to decipher it.

"It's gibberish," agreed U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson. "It doesn't make any sense to me."

Jackson ordered Microsoft to help the government lawyers understand the financial records when they arrive at Microsoft's headquarters next Wednesday. "It, in no way, will be intrusive to their business," said a Justice Department spokesman.

Written By Rex Nutting, CBS MarketWatch