Microsoft Corporation saw its first faint lights of hope in its ongoing court battle with the DOJ late Monday when the U.S. Court of Appeals agreed to temporarily bar the involvement of special master Lawrence Lessig in the case. Lessig had been assigned by Judge Jackson to oversee the technical details of the case. Microsoft argued that Lessig was anti-Microsoft, citing a series of email messages with a Netscape employee.

"We are gratified that the Court of Appeals acted quickly," said William Neukom, Microsoft senior VP for law and corporate affairs. "We believe this case is critical to consumers and to the future health of the U.S. software industry, so we are looking forward to presenting our evidence and arguments to the appeals court and the trial court in the months ahead. We believe the evidence will show that Microsoft's ongoing development of the Internet Explorer technologies within Windows 95 benefits customers and does not violate any legal rules."

Though small, the victory is significant for Microsoft, which has been attempting to soften its public image lately and garner support in its fight against the government. It also places the technical burden squarely on the shoulders of Judge Jackson. The Appellate Court said that it didn't want its decision to impede discovery and fact-finding in the case, though it will likely that more hearings before the judge will be required so that he may more fully understand the issues