The Justice Department and 19 states filed a 17-page proposal to the federal judge presiding over Microsoft's (MSFT) - Get Report antitrust case, calling for the separation of Windows operating system from software applications such as spread sheets.

According to the government, the division would be a suitable solution to end Microsoft's monopoly of the software industry. Microsoft called the plan "extreme," and refuted that the break up would hurt consumers and hamper innovation. Earlier this month, the judge ruled that Microsoft infringed on antirust law using Window's strong presence in PCs to clamp competition. The deadline for Microsoft to appeal the ruling is set for May 10. In after-hours trading, shares of the stock hit 71 5/8, up from its closing price of 69 3/4.

In other postclose news (earnings estimates from

First Call/Thomson Financial

; earnings reported on a diluted basis unless otherwise specified):

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

Dime

(DME)

and

Hudson

(HU)

said that they have axed plans for a merger. Dime said it would consider other options.

Policy Management Systems

(PMS)

said it received a buyout offer from

EDS

(EDS)

, valued at $18-$20 a share.

ReliaStar Financial

(RLR)

said it is in talks regarding a possible sale of the company. ReliaStar, a Minneapolis-based holding company that offers financial services, said it doesn't intend to comment further until a deal is reached or until talks are terminated.

Merger partners

Tribune

(TRB)

and

Times Mirror

(TMC)

said that they are considering a possible sale of Times Mirror's

Jeppesen

division, which provides flight information. The two companies have hired

Merrill Lynch

to serve as their financial advisor. Tribune chairman John Madigan said that the merged company wants to concentrate on its core businesses such as broadcasting and publishing.

Earnings/revenue reports

Energy East

(NEG)

posted first-quarter earnings of 83 cents a share, topping the seven-analyst estimate of 79 cents and up from the year-ago 71 cent-profit.

Solectron

(SLR)

warned investors that it would report third-quarter earnings between 20 cents to 22 cents a share, possibly missing the 23-analyst estimate of a 22-cent profit. The company said it was comfortable with the fiscal-2000 analyst estimate of 84 cents.

Offerings and stock actions

Steel Technologies

(STTX)

added $1 million to its current stock buyback.

Miscellany

Avant!

(AVNT)

said that a northern California county judge threw out criminal charges against the software maker and its current and former executives charged in the suit.

Cleco

(CNL)

said it tapped David Eppler as its president and CEO. As of May 1, Eppler will replace the retiring Gregory Nesbitt.