In a court ruling issued late last week, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly officially cut ties between the nine U.S. states and District of Columbia, which are pursuing tougher sanctions against Microsoft, and the parties that have chosen to settle the case, which include nine other states and the Department of Justice (DOJ). This "deconsolidation," as the judge called it, was necessitated because the differing legal tracks no longer share enough common bonds to keep them together.

"The consolidated case no longer serves the interest of economy and convenience," Kollar-Kotelly said. "While certainly the Court does not mean to suggest that the two cases no longer involve common questions of law and fact, the divergent nature of the two cases \[seems to prevent any\] advantage arising from consolidation."
 
The DOJ and nineteen U.S. states and the District of Columbia once pursued separate antitrust cases against Microsoft. But these cases were consolidated by Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson in 1998, who ruled that the cases were parallel and had identical goals.