It's the stuff of legends -- the little guy standing up to the giant and somehow prevailing, providing encouragement for little guys everywhere. That's an apt characterization of Massachusetts' decision to appeal the Microsoft(Nasdaq: MSFT) anti-trust settlement, except for the "prevailing" part.

Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly is unlikely to get his way, ultimately, and it will cost even more time and money to prolong this thing. But hey, that's no reason for the government to step back, right? Rigggggght.

Oh, to be a regulator, spending the taxpayers' money to protect "consumers."

Seven of the nine states (plus the District of Columbia) smacked down by U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly's ruling in November have agreed with the settlement. They are now focused on making sure Microsoft upholds its end of the deal, believing this to be the best allocation of their states' resources.

Aside from Massachusetts, only West Virginia hasn't signed on, and it has to decide by today's deadline. Massachusetts claims it's ready to go it alone.

Like a dog with a bone, Reilly just doesn't want to let this one go. He's been a vocal critic of Microsoft from the beginning, so it's hardly surprising.

Most legal analysts think his appeal is a long shot. Guess where it'll end up, should he -- through some incredibly fortuitous twist of fate -- win his first appeal? Yep, right back into the hands of Kollar-Kotelly. She was at least a little polite about her views concerning the states the first time around. It'll be interesting to see what happens should she get a second shot.

Microsoft isn't sweating this, and neither should shareholders. Microsoft's moved on. Too bad Massachusetts won't.

Disclaimer: LouAnn Lofton owns shares of Microsoft. She's never been to Massachusetts but hears it's lovely.