Microsoft's Choice

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WASHINGTON: Get set for a showdown. Following Monday’s decision by Microsoft to appeal a judge’s order to unbundle their browser from Windows 95, an official at the DOJ told the press that the software giant isn’t complying with the judge’s decree as it said it would. The bone of contention this time? The current version of Windows 95, which Microsoft claims “won’t work properly” without Internet Explorer. They will offer PC makers an Explorer-free alternative — a badly out-of-date version of Windows 95 that does not include any of the upgrades of the last two years. Such a Hobson’s choice “violates the spirit, if not the letter of the judge’s order,” said the anonymous DOJ source.

In what seems like a bid to prove that Explorer and Windows are not, as Justice contends, separate products, Microsoft VP Brad Chase wrote manufacturers Monday that recent versions of Windows 95 were so dependent on Explorer that “when you have taken out all of those files, you get a version of Windows 95 that doesn't boot.” Antitrust hounds may smell a rat, however — can none of the mighty brains at Redmond debug that little problem?