Answer: When pigs fly.

Question: Will Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson accept Microsoft's (MSFT) - Get Report proposed solution, filed Wednesday afternoon, to the Justice Department's antitrust action in his court?

I don't want to say "whimsical," exactly, but to say any less about this non-responsive filing would fail to do it justice. Roughly equivalent to offering to stand in the corner of the classroom, wearing a dunce hat, for 10 minutes, Microsoft's suggested remedies -- and it offered a slew of them -- fall laughably short of anything Jackson is likely to impose.

First, Microsoft grandly offers to accept limitations on its business practices if Judge Jackson will please just throw out that nasty old DOJ proposal to split the company in two. And if everyone can please hurry the case along to its final appeals stage. In fact, a preliminary injunction from Jackson, imposing those limitations, would be okey-dokey, said Microsoft --


the judge will quickly relinquish control of the case to the appeals courts. Glad to hear it's OK with them for him to enjoin them. I'll bet Jackson is, too.

Second, Microsoft wants this "remedy" phase of the trial extended -- to Dec. 4, if, Microsoft says tauntingly, Jackson is taking the DOJ's proposal to split up the company seriously; to only Oct. 4, if Jackson has decided not to even consider the break-up proposal; and to Aug. 7, if he'll also throw out the DOJ's "disclosure remedies."

(This is, remember, the same proceeding, the same court, and especially, the same judge who just a couple of weeks ago told the parties he wanted to put the conclusion of the trial on a fast track, wrapping it up in no more than 60 days after his April "conclusions of law" findings. Check your calendars, Redmondians.)

Third --

whoa now, here comes a biggie!

-- Microsoft says that if its proposals are accepted, it will henceforth allow PC makers some say-so on the first screen that appears when a Windows PC is turned on. (Now, that screen must be the infamous Windows "splash screen," with the Windows logo floating against blurry clouds and blue skies.) Ahh, the scintillating power of freedom in the marketplace! I'll bet


(DELL) - Get Report




and other PC makers have been losing sleep over this.

Fourth, Microsoft will subsequently hide Internet Explorer somewhere within Windows. Microsoft seems to believe this would somehow satisfy the DOJ's demands that Microsoft sever Windows and Internet Explorer. Not exactly the same thing, guys ... but a nice head-fake.

If it sounds like I'm not taking this quite seriously, that I perceive some lack of


in these filings by Microsoft -- well, you're right. It


pretty funny when a litigant that has been losing battle after battle for a year feels called upon to tell a judge yeah, OK, they think maybe he has the power to issue injunctions against them.

Thumbing your nose at a federal judge --


federal judge, on any level -- is a dangerous proposition.

Look for a May 17 response by the government to the Microsoft proposals, and a hearing in Judge Jackson's court on May 24 to discuss them.


look for a cheery judge, happy to accept such reasonable proposals from those nice folks in Redmond.

As a brief follow-up to my column

earlier today about Bill Gates' comments in this week's

Time Magazine

, Microsoft CEO

Steve Ballmer

repeated again today in a speech at the

National Cable Television Association

convention in New Orleans that "our company will not be broken up. It will not happen.''

Sure, Steve. No matter how much you antagonize the judge.

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, neither Seymour nor Seymour Group held positions in any securities mentioned in this column, although holdings can change at any time. Seymour does not write about companies that are current or recent consulting clients of Seymour Group. While Seymour cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites your feedback at