Neighbors Relieved for Microsoft

ITMES STAFF WRITERS

After an appeals court in Washington ruled Thursday that Microsoft Corp. would not immediately be split into two companies, the reaction nearly 3,000 miles away in the other Washington was a mixture of glee, a sense of vindication and especially relief.

News of the decision broke shortly before 9 a.m., as employees were driving up to Microsoft's sprawling, tree-lined campus.

"People were honking at the entrances," said John, a T-shirt clad employee who asked that his last name not be used."People are really, really excited and really relieved about this."

The ruling upheld U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's findings that the software behemoth abused its monopoly power, even as it removed the jurist from the case. 'Softies, as Microsoft employees are known, and their local supporters preferred to focus on the positive.

"Judge Penfield Jackson certainly got what he deserved," said Patty Barrier, whose husband owns several luxury car dealerships in Bellevue. "We know the attorneys for Microsoft, and we know what fine people they are."

Customers waiting to have their cars serviced at Barrier Motors huddled around a TV to watch Bill Gates' live news conference.

"People in the Northwest identify with their champions," said Michael Vena, general manager of Barrier Motors Jaguar Porsche Audi dealership and a longtime Microsoft stockholder. "We identify with the success of the Mariners, and we identify with the success of Microsoft."

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Times researcher Marshall reported from Redmond, and Times staff writer Kaplan reported from Los Angeles.

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