Microsoft appeals browser injunction

Software giant alleges Judges's preliminary injunction oversteps bounds of antitrust issue.

Attorneys for Microsoft Corp. filed a formal appeal Monday to a Federal judge’s injunction forcing the software behemoth to “uncouple” sales and distribution of its Internet Explorer 4.0 Web browser from its near-universal Windows computer operating system.

The appeal, filed in Thomas Penfield Jackson’s Federal District Court, alleged that Jackson’s preliminary injunction overstepped the bounds of the current matter between Microsoft and the Dept. of Justice’s antitrust division.

Microsoft executives said that, while waiting for a reply on its appeal, the company would offer PC makers three disparate options: the situation before DOJ’s actions, a separate version of Internet Explorer 3.0 (an earlier version of the browser that isn’t so tightly bound up with Windows) or a “modified” version of Windows 95 that unhooks the browser elements.

The company also said that it is proceeding with development of Windows 98, even though that operating system is even more tightly bound up with Internet Explorer 4.0.

Microsoft chief counsel William Neukom has been quoted as saying that Jackson’s injunction was “in error,” since Jackson in 1995 denied the Justice Dept.’s motion to find Microsoft in contempt of court for allegedly violating an agreement it had made to cease “anticompetitive behavior.”

“Since he did not do so then,” Neukom told a conference call of journalists, “the injunction is in error.”

Microsoft contends that it is Internet Explorer’s superior quality to arch-rival Netscape Communications’ browser that allowed the company’s share of the browser market to increase fivefold in 1997. “It is not because IE4 was bundled with Windows 95, but because it is a better browser,” said Neukom.

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