Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly has appointed a lead technical expert to inspect the source code for various Microsoft Windows products to determine the veracity of the company's claims about the impossibility of separating out various middleware applications. Lee A. Hollaar, a professor at the University of Utah's School of Computing, will lead a small team of experts in reviewing the code. He'll report back to the judge about whether a "stripped down" Windows version, which the nine nonsettling states and the District of Columbia want Microsoft to ship, is technically feasible.

Hollaar's appointment comes just days after Kollar-Kotelly's landmark decision to force Microsoft to hand over the Windows source code. The company had been resisting source-code requests from the states, arguing that fulfilling such requests was a violation of its intellectual property rights. But Kollar-Kotelly said that Microsoft couldn't make assertions based on knowledge of the source code if it didn't let the other side have the same knowledge.

Hollaar and his team (who have inspected Windows source code for courts in other Microsoft cases) will review the latest Windows releases, including Windows XP Home and Professional Editions and Windows XP Embedded, a component-based version of the OS that's specifically designed to permit mixing and matching of applications and capabilities. The team's exact findings will remain confidential, according to the court's protective order.