Microsoft, DOJ settle contempt of court case

Microsoft and the U.S. Department of Justice have finally reached a settlement in the contempt-of-court case against the software company, by which Microsoft will provide versions of Windows 95 without the Internet Explorer browser to computer makers.

Microsoft had been threatened with a fine of $US1 million a day if it did not comply with the judge's temporary injunction, issued on Dec. 11.

However, the agreement settled only the contempt-of-court issue, and does not settle other issues pending against Microsoft in the district or appeals courts. Microsoft said it will actively pursue its appeal of the temporary injunction. The court date for the appeal is set for April 21.

Meanwhile, the larger issue of whether Microsoft has violated its 1995 consent decree with the DOJ by bundling Explorer with Windows is being examined by a technical advisor, known as a special master, appointed by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson.

Microsoft is notifying computer makers that two additional Windows 95 options are available. Both options entail leaving all or nearly all of the Explorer files in Windows 95 but removing or hiding customer access to the browser functionality.

Microsoft agreed to provide each computer manufacturer the option of licensing a version of Windows 95 OSR 2.0 - a new version - with Explorer uninstalled. The second option that will be offered to computer manufacturers is a version of Windows 95 in which no Internet Explorer icon appears on the desktop or in the Programs list under the Start menu.

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