Germany, Scientologists go to head-to-head over Windows 2000 feature

A bizarre problem between the government of Germany and the Church of Scientology poked its head onto the high tech world this weekend when Microsoft became involved in the spat. The company bowed to complaints from Germany and agreed to provide instructions for removing the Disk Defrag feature in Windows 2000, which was written by a company led by a Scientologist. This issue was first raised right before the release of Windows 2000, when Germany complained about the feature, written by Executive Software, makers of the award-winning Diskeeper products. Executive Software's CEO is Craig Jensen, who is a Scientologist. Germany expressed concerns that the software might include "a security problem," as the country has clashed with Scientologists in the past because Germany considers Scientology to be a cult, not a religion. So this weekend, Microsoft provided complex instructions on its German Web site about removing the Disk Defrag feature.

"In Germany, they are very, very sensitive with these things," a Microsoft spokesperson said, explaining the instructions. "They recommended not to use this tool.'' Executive Software's Craig Jensen responded to the news over the weekend with a stern condemnation. "The stench of religious intolerance is high among government officials in Germany," he wrote in a statement. "German officials started by boycotting American movies featuring prominent artists who are Scientologists. Now their target is American computer software. Next, it will be American cars, books, hardware, textiles, foodstuffs and so on. American companies now face the possibility of being blacklisted and their products boycotted if the Germans decide they don't like the religion of their CEOs."

Executive Software says that its CEO's religious beliefs have nothing to do with the company or its products. "Just like a company owner might be a Christian, it's a religion and that's his belief, and it has nothing to do with developing software and selling software,'' said Executive Software's Chris Cavanagh. And certainly the software is popular: Diskeeper, upon which the Windows 2000 Disk Defrag feature is based, has won numerous awards and dominates the market for this sort of software

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