Spanking Microsoft

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District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson gave Bill Gates a major slap in the face Thursday night, by issuing a temporary order banning Microsoft from bundling Internet Explorer with Windows 95. To soften the blow, Jackson turned down the Justice Department's request that Microsoft be fined $1 million a day for the duration but that's nothing compared to the millions Microsoft could lose in the absence of the Explorer browser's competitive edge. A reticent Gates, currently in China, refused to discuss the case but insisted the browser wars "will continue ... it's a healthy competition," he said.

Judge Jackson wasn't so sure, and ruled that the possibility of a Microsoft monopoly was simply too great to be ignored until the suit was settled which could take some time, especially since the judge appointed a top legal scholar from Harvard to study the case and make recommendations. Not surprisingly, Joel Klein the DOJ's top trustbuster was cock-a-hoop. "Starting tomorrow, choice will be restored to the public," he told reporters Thursday. Added his boss, Janet Reno: "It will help ensure a competitive market and prevent Microsoft from using its dominance to gain an unfair advantage in the browser market."

And all across the land, the people rejoiced as the wicked witch's spell was broken ... well, perhaps not, but those who feared the coming of Windows 98 have been given a reprieve and the folks at Netscape will certainly be rubbing their hands with glee.