It is not obvious why at this time and place Microsoft is making such a big and effectively one time dividend payment. It is a Winfall which will not likely have a permanent effect on the stock price – so it will not help the stock options price. The real way to unlock value in the MSFT stock would be to go with the idea of the orginal break up order of the Justice department; but to do it on Microsoft own terms. Then like AT&T of the early 1980s – the result of which was the release in a few years time of huge valuations of the Baby Bells, AT&T and the Lucent spin offs. In a similar manner, Microsofts divisions are being constrained on what they can do to support the corporate peloton and the whole of Microsoft is slowed down by the proprietary, closed (read seamless and integrated in Gates-speak) vision known as the Gates of Longhorn. Some of those Redmond divisions would surely prosper mightily if they were allowed to compete in the Mac, Linux and Unix market places. Some would make innovative hardware/software hybrids like Apples iPod and iTunes. Others would become involved in Services and put the fear of a tiger-like enemy into IGS and the like.
However, all this is a pipedream as Microsoft appears ready to launch a legal and patent assualt on the market behind the proprietary Gates of Longhorn. SCO was just the warm-up run. If I were a Microsoft developer/staffer I would have to ask – “is this the adventure I signed up for ?”