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Wednesday, January 21, 1998 Published at 09:17 GMT


Microsoft 'interfering with court process'
image: [ Windows 95: Centre of the legal battle ]
Windows 95: Centre of the legal battle

The Microsoft Corporation and the American Justice Department are squaring up for the latest bout in their legal fight.

The Department of Justice has accused Microsoft of using a series of court filings to interfere with attempts to resolve the issue.

Microsoft argues accuses the government department of changing its position weekly.

[ image: Bill Gates: Microsoft mastermind]
Bill Gates: Microsoft mastermind
A federal court has ordered Microsoft to offer computer makers its Windows 95 operating system without requiring them to also accept its Web browser.

The Justice Department and Microsoft meet in court again on Thursday when Microsoft faces a contempt hearing for allegedly failing to comply with the order.

Microsoft argues that it was unable to understand a court order requiring it to sell the Windows 95 operating system without tying it to its Internet Explorer Web browser.

Microsoft claimed in a filing earlier this month that the government failed to clearly define how Windows 95 and Internet Explorer - which the company says are fully integrated - can be separated.

[ image: The argument: Is Internet Explorer integrated or separate?]
The argument: Is Internet Explorer integrated or separate?
The government, in a reply brief, said Microsoft should step aside and let Professor Lawrence Lessig, a special adviser to Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, resolve the issues.

The Justice Department said in its filing: "By requesting further briefing in this court on issues that Prof Lessig proposes to address in an orderly fashion, it is Microsoft that seeks to interfere with the process this court established."

The department said the court did not need to intervene in the matter as Prof Lessig was already examining the issues.

The Justice Department papers read: "Microsoft recently raised before Prof Lessig precisely the same request that it now makes to the court in its motion."

Microsoft has also accused the government of contradicting itself in defining the software giant's Internet Explorer Web browser.

To comply, Microsoft has offered computer makers an old version of the Windows 95 product or one that it says will not work.

Microsoft has said its offer means it is complying with the judge's order and argued that the government's definition of its product "changes from week to week and from brief to brief".

The government has asked Judge Jackson to impose a $1m-a-day fine unless Microsoft stops its alleged violation of the judge's order.

Microsoft has appealed on several different aspects of Judge Jackson's order.

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