Windows 95 reprieve

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The Independent Online

Los Angeles

Microsoft shares jumped almost 5 per cent to $97.75 yesterday on news that the US Justice Department will not take anti-trust action against the company before the 24 August launch of Windows 95.

While the Justice Department's decision does not rule out enforcement action after the launch of the new operating system, the element of uncertainty surrounding the launch has been removed, dealers said.

The decision has lifted a cloud that has been hanging over the software industry. In a two-sentence statement the Justice Department said it did not rule out action at a later date.It is believed to still be considering whether to compel Microsoft to remove a comm- unications package that would automatically give users access to the company's new on-line information service.

Microsoft had estimated that a recall before launch would have cost the company $315m and a delay until October could have cost $900m.

"We're pleased the industry uncertainty has been lifted," a company spokesman said.

However, the three main competitors to Microsoft's plans to enter the information industry on the Internet expressed confidence the Justice Department would eventually act to "unbundle" Microsoft's service software from Windows 95.

"It would seem that the Justice Department wants to make sure all their ducks are in a row before they file suit," Pierce Reid, a spokesman for Compuserve, said.