The Department of Justice (DoJ) is expected to allow Microsoft to ship Windows 98 on its scheduled release plan, provided that the software giant offers a separate OS without Internet Explorer.
In October 1997, the DoJ sued Microsoft for violating a 1995 Consent Decree. According to US sources, the DoJ was considering asking a District Court judge to force Microsoft to offer a separate version of Windows 98 that hides the internet browser functionality.
While a definitive decision has yet to be reached in this case, in a preliminary injunction Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ruled that Microsoft should offer PC vendors the option of offering a version of Windows 95 that does not include the Internet Explorer browser. A similar ruling on Windows 98 would merely perpetuate this situation.
Though Microsoft is appealing the injunction, its effect on the market has proved to be minimal: major PC vendors continue to ship PCs with Internet Explorer installed. However, the DoJ was reportedly considering a wider antitrust case against Microsoft.
There were reports that Microsoft will ship Windows 98 on 25 June.
Microsoft has maintained the product would be released 'in the first half of 1998'.
According to the report, Windows 98, complete with integrated Internet Explorer browser and support for the Universal Serial Bus, will start manufacture in mid May, with Microsoft set to announce the date next week.
But the release date is still subject to the DoJ, which may ask Microsoft to release two versions of the operating environment, one bundled with IE and one without. Microsoft refused to comment on the speculation.
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