Microsoft, Justice Down to the Wire

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The Justice Department urged a federal appeals court to deny a request by Microsoft that would allow the company to ship Windows 98 on schedule next week. Microsoft asked the appeals court on Wednesday to set aside parts of a restraining order that prevented the company from forcing manufacturers to take its browser as a condition for licensing its operating system. That restraining order was appealed, but until a court says otherwise it still stands, as it has now for five months. So it's hard for Microsoft to suddenly claim an emergency when it could have sought to clarify the matter back in December, as Justice was quick to point out in its brief to the appeals court. Calling the last-minute crisis over the release of Windows 98 "a self-generated hardship," DOJ point man Joel Klein made it clear that the company should have asked a lot sooner if it really was interested in a speedy answer.