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The government's 10-year-long antitrust case against

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation Report

took a dramatic turn toward the endgame Monday, as the presiding judge ruled the software giant

violated antitrust law. Microsoft shares fell 15% ahead of the ruling as investors fretted that Microsoft, one of the primary drivers of the great bull market and until recently the most valuable company in the world, would be dismembered under court order. Microsoft vowed to appeal.

Discussions aimed at settling the matter

foundered this weekend, leaving the judge to rule on the

TheStreet Recommends

Justice Department's

suit. The failure of settlement talks cleared presiding judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, who in issuing his

findings of fact last November ruled Microsoft had acted as a monopoly, to rule on which laws Microsoft violated. (For more information on the government's action against the Redmond, Wash., software giant, see our

Microsoft Trial Timeline.)

Now,

TheStreet.com

takes you beyond the judge's ruling and the stock-market action to what will happen next in this landmark case, and what investors should look for in considering this most closely watched stock.

Moving Beyond the Microsoft Settlement

  • Microsoft Can't Bet the Farm on Dub's 'No Litigation' Style
    By Jim Seymour
    Despite the popularity of the 'Wait for Bush' solution, it's too risky, too. late.
  • Plaintiffs' Lawyers Sharpening Their Knives for a Legal Assault on Microsoft
    By Jim Seymour
    The Justice Department's ruling may be the least of Microsoft's worries, as plaintiffs line up for civil suits.
  • Looking Into the Pit of Civil Litigation Against Microsoft
    By Jim Seymour
    The likely huge and almost endless litigation could turn the Justice Department action into a relative sideshow.
  • The Night Watch: Linux Stocks Soar on Microsoft's Woes
    By Eric Gillin
    With Redmond's hometown favorite on the ropes, anything related to the competing Linux system caught a bid.
  • Night Watch *Extra*: Turning the Spotlight on Microsoft's Postclose Action
    By Eric Gillin
    Find out everything you need to know about how the software giant fared in after-hours trading.
  • Waiting for Victory in Microsoft Case
    By Tish Williams
    Despite Monday's ruling, Silicon Valley is still holding its breath -- except archrival James Barksdale.
  • For Microsoft, Harsh Ruling Foretells a Punishing Penalty Phase
    By Jim Seymour
    The judge's tougher-than-expected ruling opens the door to countless civil actions.
  • Whither Microsoft? Listen to Ma
    By George Mannes
    Returning to the Bell System breakup of 1984 to glean lessons about the case at hand.
  • Reactions on Microsoft Decision Vary Greatly
    By Justin Dini and Jennifer Friedlin
    "I think they should impeach Judge Jackson," said John Puricelli, an analyst at A.G. Edwards & Sons.
  • Fund Managers' Enthusiasm For Microsoft Has Dimmed
    By Ian McDonald
    It used to be a no-brainer to add it to a growth portfolio. Not anymore.
  • Tracking the Microsoft/Nasdaq Debacle
    By Aaron Task
    After the worst point drop in Nasdaq history amid concern over the Microsoft ruling, TheStreet.com picks through the rubble.
  • Drawn-Out Battle Leaves Microsoft Longing for Swift Justice
    By Marcy Burstiner
    Shareholders are left with uncertainty, and competitors smell opportunities as the software king's battles continue.
  • For Microsoft Shareholders, a Hardware Row to Hoe
    By Tom Lepri
    For all the talk of a Web-driven makeover, Microsoft is remarkably dependent on PC-based businesses.
  • Bill Writes Microsoft's New 'Road Ahead'
    By Jim Seymour
    Hints on the company's future could come from an essay penned by Gates in 1995.
  • The Next Big, and Probably Bad, Week for Microsoft
    By Jim Seymour
    The failed negotiations don't bode well for the company, tech stocks in general, and probably the market overall.
  • Microsoft Trial Timeline
    A light refresher on a grueling case.
  • Favorable Settlement or Not, Opinions Are Split on Microsoft's Future
    By Marcy Burstiner
    Some analysts think Microsoft is falling behind, but others say the software giant will adapt to B2B and e-commerce.
  • Judge Rules Microsoft Violated Antitrust Laws
    By Mike Brick
    The ruling was widely expected by legal experts.