Case of the week

He has invited more hatred, abuse, parodies and custard pies than most incredibly rich men and now, according to some, he has met his nemesis in the form of the US government. Bill Gates faces the prospect of watching his company split up as punishment for running foul of US anti-trust legislation. As expected, a judge found the company guilty of abusing its position in the operating systems market by forcing computer manufacturers to bundle its products and internet browser with their machines. In a desperate, and until now successful, attempt to play catch-up in the race to control the new markets, Gates may well have inadvertently led his empire to its end. Appeals are being launched and the battle is far from over, but this week one analyst said that breaking up Microsoft may not have the desired effect. Mitch Stone, who maintains the Boycott Microsoft website, said: ‘It’s like cutting up an earthworm. You’ll get nothing but smaller earthworms out of it.’