It's like a hanging set to music, except you just know that there's no real chance that the condemned man - in this case, it's Microsoft - will ever take the drop.
Microsoft is, of course, threatening to withdraw Windows if the US states get their way. They are arguing for a component (middleware) version of the product, which will allow for third-party development and licensing.
This is nothing less than a look under Microsoft's bonnet. Just imagine owning a car but not being allowed to look at the engine? That's the happy world of Windows and always will be if Microsoft has its way.
The alternative, claims Microsoft, is nothing less than anarchy, with thousands of Windows clones washing around, all slightly different, and with middleware from Microsoft being forced to co-exist alongside middleware from rival companies, such as Sun, or even Oracle!
Of course, the argument is a little more complex than this but do we really care anymore? Does justice make a difference if you have $36bn in the bank? I very much doubt it, and did anyone believe it ever did?
At least it will be more difficult in the future for any technology giant to behave again as Microsoft did in the past without being called to account a great deal faster. And anyway, there's Enron to worry about now.
The past ten years should have taught all of us a lesson. We had Windows and the Internet and the Great Dotcom Bubble, which burst, leaving many of the people I know out of pocket and wondering where their common sense had gone.
Like Dr Frankenstein, we created the software monsters of this world and then looked surprised, when Microsoft used its considerable muscle to build the monopoly that gave us the software we demanded of it.
Now there's no going back. There's every sign that tomorrow will be an even more of a Microsoft world than today and, like some latter-day Faust, we made that bargain when we threw out OS/2 in favour of a prettier looking and less reliable Windows.
If governments aren't strong enough to stand in front of this runaway train, we might as well get used to the idea of a software industry being divvied up between a handful of well-known companies. It's called commercial Darwinism, I suppose.
After all, it's no different to Kellogg's and the cornflake business. Winner takes all, I'm afraid.
Do you like to pour out your software like cornflakes, or are you more in favour of organic muesli-style solutions? >>