Clarification Please, Microsoft Asks

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Microsoft has decided to beard the lion in his lair and ask a federal appeals court flat out if a preliminary injunction prevents it from bundling the Internet Explorer browser into Windows 98. With the release date of Windows 98 fast approaching, Microsoft can't play chicken much longer. The company's spin on the matter makes the release of Windows 98 sound like some unpredictable natural phenomenon, like the migration of caribou, that would be unnatural to prevent, and Microsoft invokes the image of a pathetic, browserless Windows that "would bear little, if any, resemblance to Windows 98." Well, why didn't they think of that when the preliminary injunction was handed down almost six months ago?

Indeed, the Justice Department said it would respond promptly, but pointed out that Microsoft's "emergency" (Justice's ironic quotes) has been staring it in the face since last December, and that the company has only itself to blame for failing to seek clarification on the issues that may now delay the release of Windows 98. It's hardly surprising to add that the Tuesday night talks between Bill Gates and DOJ point man Joel Klein were fruitless, with Gates maintaining that Windows is not an operating system monopoly.