If you've been watching the headlines from Redmond, you've noticed the change. For the past year, Mr. Softy's stateside policy has been to seek amicable settlements to the remaining class action complaints. The recent fight in Minnesota -- which seemed to hinge on the questionable but politically popular notion that profits themselves proved wrongdoing -- was also settled with a cash payoff.
Tennessee and California are other states that have recently come to terms, but governments aren't the only beneficiaries. In April, Sun Microsystems
Things are tougher across the Atlantic, where there's still a no-holds-barred cage match with the European Union, which seems determined to extract a pound of flesh no matter how strongly its fears and opinions are contravened by reality.
In general, these settlements look like good news for investors. The cash-rich company can afford them, and it's a small price to pay for tranquillity.
After all, Microsoft has worked hard to earn its creepy bona fides. That's why it has been the de facto target for pugnacious alpha-nerds like Apple's
The time has come for Microsoft to lie low and do what it does best: Collect mountains of cash. The fewer legal distractions and PR nightmares, the better.
For more Fool coverage of Microsoft:
Fool contributor Seth Jayson looks forward to email from fervent Microsoft bashers. He owns several Microsoft operating systems, but has no position in any company mentioned. View his Fool profile here.