Microsoft negotiating to avoid more delays


Microsoft met late last week with officials from the U.S. Department of Justice and attorneys general from 20 states to reach a settlement to avoid threatened state and federal antitrust lawsuits.

The Justice Department and the states were ready last week to file antitrust lawsuits against the Redmond, Wash., software maker that would go well beyond earlier charges dealing with the company's Internet Explorer World Wide Web browser.

Microsoft agreed to talks on Thursday morning, and postponed the Friday release of its Windows 98 operating system to computer makers until Monday, May 18.

The company hasn't changed its plans to release Windows 98 to consumers on June 25.

The antitrust charges threatened by government lawyers and the attorneys general from 20 states -- including Kentucky and Indiana -- allegedly focus on the company's general business practices with computer makers and language it uses in contracts and software licenses. The charges would accuse Microsoft of abusing its power and driving competitors from the software market.

Microsoft won a small battle earlier last week when a U.S. Court of Appeals said the government couldn't apply previous antitrust agreements concerning Windows 95 to the upcoming release of Windows 98.

While Windows 95 and Internet Explorer were not found to be "integrated products," the same thing can't be said of Windows 98, the three-judge appellate court said.

A Reuters story on Friday, quoting unnamed Justice Department sources, said that the Microsoft's contracts prevent computer makers from making deals with other software makers. Microsoft may wind up making concessions in contract language to avoid -- and bring and end -- to further antitrust lawsuits.

MAC UPDATE. Apple Computer plans to incorporate the core of its latest Macintosh operating system with its high-end new operating system, code named Rhapsody, that's now under development.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs said last week the new operating system -- to be called MAC OS X (10) -- will be released next year, and will be the biggest leap in technology since the Mac's release in 1984.

Mac OS X will be designed to run only on the PowerPC G3 processor-equipped Macintoshes.

A version of the Rhapsody software for servers will be released later this year. Rhapsody has been in development since Apple bought Next Computer in December 1996.

Mac OS 8.5 -- code-named Allegro -- is due to be released this fall.

For more Apple news, visit their Web site at

Y2K LAWSUIT. The Year 2000 problem you hear so much about is starting to bear fruit -- legal fruit, that is.

Intuit, the company that makes the popular Quicken financial software, has been slapped with a lawsuit claiming the company knowingly sold versions of the software that were not Year 2000 compliant.

The suit claims that the software cannot process dates after Dec. 31, 1999.

The lawsuit seeks class-action status, and was filed on behalf of purchasers of Quicken 5 and 6. Quicken 98 is the only version of Quicken that is fully Y2k compliant.

Expect to hear more about Y2k-related lawsuits in the coming year or two. And it will be most interesting to see how these suits proceed -- and multiply.

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