Judge schedules Microsoft's date with destiny

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Jackson has scheduled a meeting for January 13th, at which representatives from Microsoft and the Department of Justice can argue whether Microsoft is in contempt of his preliminary injunction. At a brief meeting today, Judge Jackson seemed to throw his support behind the DOJ when he said that it seemed quite easy to remove Internet Explorer from Windows 95, contrary to wild claims the software giant made this week. In a demonstration for the Judge earlier this week, he said, court officials successfully removed Internet Explorer from Windows 95 in less than 90 seconds.

The preliminary injunction in question prevents Microsoft from forcing OEMs to bundle Internet Explorer with Windows 95. Microsoft's response, which the DOJ describes as "an absolute mockery," gives OEMs little real choice: they can take Windows 95 with IE, they can take the two year-old version of Windows 95 that originally shipped without IE, or they can take a version with IE stripped out. That version doesn't even boot up.

As usual, Microsoft tried to make the best of the situation, even though the government is obviously closing in on it.

"We're quite pleased that the court will provide an opportunity for technical experts to provide testimony in this case," said Brad Smith, an associate general counsel for Microsoft. "We've had a lot of heat in this process and now we'll have an opportunity to shed a little light."

Smith said that Windows 95, with over 14 millions lines of code, is more complex than the software the FAA uses to control air traffic in the United States. "You can't slice it and dice it with a legal meat cleaver," he said

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