Getting on Microsoft's Case

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With time running out before the scheduled release of Microsoft's Windows 98 operating system, the Justice Department and the attorneys general of several states are reportedly preparing to file new antitrust charges against the company as early as next week. The impending release of Windows 98 presents a challenge to prosecutors because it will moot the issue of Windows 95, which will be widely supplanted by the new version. With that in mind the government will soon have to decide whether to block the release of the new operating system as part of a broader lawsuit based on Sherman Antitrust Act violations. Such a case would be much harder to prove than the comparatively clear-cut issues surrounding the integration of features in Windows 95 -- and that case hasn't exactly been a stroll in the park.

Meanwhile, Microsoft's foes are piling fuel on the fire to keep the pressure on: The CEO of software maker Caldera said Tuesday that Microsoft had threatened a large computer manufacturer with suspension of its operating system contracts if the manufacturer bundled competitors' operating systems in its computers. And while it faces the hostile glare of investigators on one front, Microsoft has lost a foothold on another: Bob Herbold, its candidate for one of six open slots on the board of the Software Publishers Association was rejected yesterday. It's especially galling considering that, with IBM, Microsoft is the SPA's largest dues payer, laying out $100,000 a year to be a member of an organization that lately has been increasingly critical of Microsoft.