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Thursday, July 30, 1998 Published at 14:37 GMT 15:37 UK


MS to reveal Windows code

Bill Gates's legal troubles go back to MS-DOS

By BBC Internet Correspondent Chris Nuttall
A judge has ordered the Microsoft Corporation to reveal parts of the source code of its Windows 95 operating system to a rival developer by the end of the week.

The company has agreed to do so, even though its lawyer told the court in Salt Lake City, Utah, that the code was "among the most valuable and confidential pieces of intellectual property in the world".

The decision relates to a case dating back to 1996 when Caldera, the owner of the DR-DOS operating system, sued Microsoft over its alleged monopolising of the DOS market.

Microsoft's MS-DOS was the basic, command-line operating system which preceded its Windows Graphical User Interface (GUI) version.

DR-DOS was developed by Novell in competition and later sold to Caldera, co-founded by a former chairman of Novell.

Ruling may help Caldera

Similar to the current US Justice Department case, Caldera alleged that Microsoft was bundling MS-DOS with Windows, unfairly excluding competitors such as DR-DOS.

This week's ruling means that experts can now examine the coding to see if Windows 95 can run on top of DR-DOS.

This could help Caldera to show that Microsoft is acting illegally in forcing computer makers to install Windows 95 with only MS-DOS running underneath.

The judge had originally ordered Microsoft to turn over the code in February. Caldera had since filed a motion to force the company to comply.

A Microsoft spokesman said only specific files which represented a tiny fraction of the millions of lines of code in Windows 95 were involved.

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