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Breathing a Little Life Into the Microsoft vs. Justice Saga

Plus, MCI WorldCom's first meeting with Wall Street in two years and a strange lack of press on Intel's latest moves.

Maybe the proceedings of the Justice Department-Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) Report battle in Washington, D.C., aren't going to be so dull after all.

A couple of days ago, Rich Gray, a San Jose lawyer who also writes a column for the

San Jose Mercury News

, took a crack at writing a preliminary

draft opinion for trial judge

Thomas Penfield Jackson

. It's worth reading, as much for its brevity and clarity -- if only real judges wrote so well! -- as for Gray's efforts to anticipate Jackson's ruling.

I won't give away Gray's well-informed opinions on what Microsoft did or didn't do, but his words are provocative -- and maybe, just maybe, they'll be close to what really comes down in this one.

In its first meeting with Wall Street analysts in two years,

MCI WorldCom

(WCOM)

, which I am long, late Wednesday said it's not interested in buying any more paging companies after its

SkyTel

(SKYT)

deal. And CEO

Bernie Ebbers

declined to discuss possible further talks with

Nextel

(NXTL)

or any other wireless phone companies, saying the company isn't interested in jumping into the cellular business: "The need hasn't arisen yet." (Well, at least he's consistent...)

Ebbers and his constant sidekick, Vice Chairman

John Sidgmore

, repeated their brother act on WorldCom's future, with Ebbers' trademarked terseness playing off Sidgmore's loquaciousness. Sidgmore came up with a wonderful phrase, "silicon cockroaches," his term for computer-to-computer communications utilities, which he said will drive growth in Internet communications in the years ahead.

Sidgmore said WorldCom is preparing for a big move into DSL service for broadband Net-access customers, and he also expects to push MMDS small-aperture satellites for "last mile" delivery of its digital telcom services to residential customers outside urban areas.

I think WorldCom is second only to

AT&T

(T) - Get AT&T Inc. Report

, which I am also long, in lining up to own the future of U.S. telecom -- and over time, WorldCom may well pull into first place in that contest. But along with, I suspect, a few thousand other shareholders, I sure wish the Lone Ranger and Tonto could be moved a little further down the path on the importance of real wireless

now

.

Intel

(INTC) - Get Intel Corporation (INTC) Report

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has been out shopping again lately, and for reasons I don't fully understand, one of its most important acquisitions once again got very little press and analyst attention.

On Tuesday, Intel bought

Dialogic

(DLGC)

, by far the leading player in the exploding computer telephony, or CT, marketplace. PBXs are being replaced wholesale across America by Windows NT-based "telephony servers" -- devices which run your voice traffic across a conventional local area network and use the power of the computer to introduce "smart" functions at almost every level, from interactive voice response (you talk to the computer to place an order or get information, and the computer responds), to caller-ID-driven pop-ups on individuals' screens (identifying callers and bringing up, say, a credit report or order status screen before the call is answered).

If you hate caller ID and many of the other new telephone intrusions now available as much as I do, insert a big Bronx Cheer here ... but you can't fault Dialogic for using what's there, and turning these into useful business tools, not just personal harassment systems.

Dialogic has been the

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Cisco Systems, Inc. Report

of the CT market since its beginning. Its CEO,

Howard Bubb

, is one of the most engaging, direct and funny people in the computer business, and he's been an extraordinary asset for Dialogic. It would have been easy for Dialogic to become the company everyone else in the CT business loves to hate,

a la

Microsoft; thanks to Howard, it's become the company everyone else in the CT business would like to work for.

Intel hasn't been shy, or cheap, about following through on its announced plans to put more and more communications smarts into its mainstream CPU chips. Just three months ago, it spent $2.2 billion to acquire communications-chip maker

Level One

(LEVL) - Get Level One Bancorp, Inc. Report

. Add up the technology, patents, researchers, products, customer lists and other assets of those two companies, and Intel already has a big, big head start on realizing its goal.

You've probably read about

Sony's

(SNE) - Get SONY GROUP CORPORATION SPONSORED ADR Report

little robotic dog,

Aibo

, or seen it on television. (The co-hosts of

ABC's

Good Morning, America

were playing with a couple of them last week.) The little robot pooches have been produced in a limited edition of just 4,000 -- 2,000 for sale in Japan, 2,000 more for sale in the U.S. And they're being sold only over the Internet.

The cute little devils can't do anything useful, but they are at least briefly entertaining, living up to Sony's description as "entertainment robots." They're already preprogrammed to do a number of more or less dog-like things, and buyers who spring for an extra $450 can get a programming kit to add their own tricks.

Useful or not, they're clearly the techno toy of the year ... so far.

Within 20 minutes after they went on sale in Japan on Tuesday morning, all 2,000 of the Japanese version had been sold, each with a price tag of about $2,066. The $2,500 American version also went on sale Tuesday. You can read more and enter your order on the

Web , but there's no word yet on how many -- if any -- American pups remain for sale.

Jim Seymour is president of Seymour Group, an information-strategies consulting firm working with corporate clients in the U.S., Europe and Asia, and a longtime columnist for PC Magazine. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. At time of publication, Seymour was long AT&T and MCI WorldCom, although positions can change at any time. Seymour does not write about companies that are consulting clients of Seymour Group, or have been in recent years. While Seymour cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites your feedback at

jseymour@thestreet.com.