Last week a US federal judge, Thomas Penfield Jackson, ruled that Microsoft must temporarily license its Windows 95 operating software to computer makers without requiring them to bundle Internet Explorer Web browser as well. Microsoft "shall cease and desist ... from the practice of licensing the use of any Microsoft personal computer operating system software (including Windows 95 or any successor version thereof), on the condition, express or implied, that the licensee also license and pre- install any Microsoft Internet browser software ... pending further order of [the] court," he said. However, in a 19-page ruling, Jackson denied the Justice Department's request to hold the software company in contempt and liable to penalties of $1m a day for violating a 1995 anti-trust agreement.
The judge said that the government has yet to prove its case, but he went on to say that it "appears to have a substantial likelihood of success" in the case and issued the preliminary injunction pending a resolution. The judge appointed Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard Law School professor, to be a "special master" and rule on 31 May on the legal issues raised in the case.
"We're pleased Judge Jackson has agreed with Microsoft that more facts are necessary," Microsoft spokesman Greg Shaw said. However, he admitted the effect of the order on the planned release of Windows 98, out next spring, where full integration of the Internet browser with the operating system is planned, was " a little unclear... We hope the matter will be resolved before then."