Microsoft spends day in court, playing games

Microsoft made two filings today in court, one with the Appellate Court, and one with the U.S. District Court, in Washington. In both filings, Microsoft says that the DOJ's attempt to find Microsoft in contempt of court is basically an admission that Internet Explorer and Windows 95 are, in fact, integrated.

Bear with me, this one gets complicated.

Microsoft's explanation goes like this: Three weeks ago, the DOJ argued that IE 3.0 was not integrated into Windows 95 and got a court order requiring Microsoft to supply a version of Windows 95 stripped of IE. Microsoft "complied," offering three options to hardware manufacturers: the normal version of Windows 95 with IE, the initial release of Windows 95 that is now two years old and out of date, and the recent version of Windows 95 with IE stripped out. This last option is useless since it will not boot or run correctly. The DOJ complained to the court, asking that Microsoft be held in contempt because it offered this stripped version of Windows 95, which was not, in its opinion, a valid option.

The war of words continues with this convoluted conclusion:

"Now, the DOJ has apparently recognized that Internet Explorer is an important part of Windows 95, and is arguing that Microsoft should be required to make Windows 95 available with nearly all of Internet Explorer added back into the product, but hidden from customers so that the feature is hard to use," said William H. Neukom, senior VP for corporate affairs at Microsoft. "Microsoft has done precisely what the DOJ requested and what the Court ordered. We have followed both the spirit and the letter of the court's preliminary injunction. Now that the DOJ understands the implications of its prior position, it wants to play by a new set of rules."

Furthermore, Microsoft asked the court again to expedite its appeal of the preliminary injunction barring it from forcing hardware manufacturers to accept a version of Windows 95 bundled with Internet Explorer. Just yesterday, the DOJ stated that Microsoft faced "no burden at all" from the preliminary injunction. Microsoft also asked the U.S. District Court to reconsider its appointment of a "special master," a court-appointed technology expert that will explain the arcane details of the case to the judge. Microsoft believes that the appointment of a special master is "unfair."

The case continues January 13th, when Microsoft VP David Cole will testify at a hearing before Judge Jackson. A technical representative from the DOJ will also be allowed to testify, and then Judge Jackson will present his ruling

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