Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and RealNetworks (NASDAQ:RNWK) finally settled their differences yesterday. The two had been squabbling over Microsoft's practice of piggybacking its media player software on Windows-driven computers to the detriment of RealNetworks' proprietary platform. And now Mr. Softy has agreed to pay RealNetworks $460 million in cash with an "I'm sorry" note stapled to the greenbacks, all in the name of ending any global antitrust disagreements between the companies. The two multimedia software powerhouses also entered into a digital-content partnership.

RealNetworks was already a cash-rich company before the settlement, but the agreement will add another $2.70 per share to the company's coffers before taxes. The online music and games venture will also have Microsoft handing RealNetworks another $301 million -- valuing the entire settlement closer to $4.50 per RealNetworks share -- though Microsoft will be earning credits against that $301 million by delivering clients to RealNetworks' digital offerings.

RealNetworks stock bolted 35% higher on the news yesterday. Yet that jump represented just a fraction of the entire settlement. Why? Well, the settlement was partly expected, and Uncle Sam will be taking a significant nibble out of the transaction.

Regardless, the settlement is good news for both camps. Microsoft sheds an albatross, while RealNetworks gets a boatload of smackers. And even if the handshake didn't seem all that genuine, both companies stand to benefit by pairing up in the name of cross-promotion.

The deal doesn't mean that RealNetworks and Microsoft are out engraving "Best Friends 4-Eva" lockets. Sun Microsystems (NASDAQ:SUNW) had also warmed up to a Microsoft settlement last year before recently backstabbing its bud by teaming up with Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) in a partnership that is aiming at Microsoft on the software front. However, in the near term, at least, Microsoft has one less headache to worry about. Now if only it can get to where it doesn't have to buy its friends, maybe Microsoft would find the elixir that has kept its stock bedridden in the $20s on this side of the millennium.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz hates to see good companies duke it out, even when he has ringside seats. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. T he Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.