The same day that Microsoft released the final version of its Windows XP operating system software - last Friday - the company's antitrust case was returned to a lower court, where a new judge will consider remedies to impose on the vendor for its anticompetitive practices. Amid buzzing helicopters and the glare of gold Zero Halliburton P5 attache cases at Microsoft's, campus, Chairman Bill Gates and Jim Allchin, group vice president of Windows, officially handed over CDs containing the gold code, or final version of the Windows XP operating system software, to six PC makers today. "Simply put, Windows XP is the best operating system Microsoft has ever built," Gates said in an announcement. "The performance improvements and advanced features of Windows XP are the culmination of more than 15 years of research, development and customer feedback. For customers, computer manufacturers and industry partners, Windows XP truly underscores the excitement and potential of the digital decade ahead." Microsoft made the announcement this morning on its Web site. Consumers may not be able to buy Windows XP, or PCs with the software installed, until the scheduled release date of October 25, 2001. Some have said Microsoft is trying to get the operating system out to manufacturers before a federal judge can lay down remedies for the software maker's antitrust conviction. The District of Columbia US Court of Appeals on Friday transferred the case back to the court where the antitrust trial was originally held for new hearings on remedies and other unresolved issues. A new judge will be picked to decide the company's fate. Once the transfer to the US District Court is complete, the government has the option of seeking preliminary injunctive relief, in advance of a permanent remedy, against the company. The government could seek to block release of XP if it feels it perpetuates business practices faulted in the appeals court's June 28 decision. The court affirmed the core charge in the government's case, that Microsoft used anticompetitive practices to maintain its operating system monopoly. The government hasn't said what its next step in the case will be. The launch of Windows XP also comes at a time when corporate IT managers are wrestling with Microsoft's new licensing program, which some say forces companies to upgrade their Microsoft software). The company also announced pricing for the new system. Windows XP Professional will be available in an upgrade version for around £130 and in a standard version for around £200, and Windows XP Home Edition will be available in an upgrade version for around £75 and in a standard version for around £130.