PC makers move ahead with Win 98

The USDepartment of Justice may be demanding changes in Windows 98, but PC makers are moving full speed ahead to ready desktops for a June 25 commercial release. IBM, Compaq and Hewlett-Packard say that should a court order block the shipment or seek changes in Windows 98, they would cross that bridge when they get to it.

The US Department of Justice may be demanding changes in Windows 98, but PC makers are moving full speed ahead to ready desktops for a June 25 commercial release.

IBM, Compaq and Hewlett-Packard say that should a court order block the shipment or seek changes in Windows 98, they would cross that bridge when they get to it.

“We’ll need to assess any changes that have to be made and adjust accordingly,” said Jim Finlaw, a spokesman for Houston-based Compaq.

Observers said the biggest effect such a court order would have on PC makers is having to unbundle software and replace it, which would take lots of time and money.

But would vendors take advantage of any requirements the Justice Department has asked for and seek to relax their licensing agreements with Microsoft? Sources at IBM and HP said they are reviewing the situation but wouldn’t elaborate.

For years, PC makers have complained quietly -- and sometimes not so quietly -- that Microsoft Corp.'s rigid and secretive licensing policies can leave users paying for software they don’t need or want. Yet few seem inclined to change their bundling practices to include other products. That’s because users don’t want them to, said sources close to IBM, echoing other PC makers.

But there would be a more immediate impact if Windows 98 is delayed.

Manufacturers and retailers stand to lose money they have already spent on promotions and advertising campaigns.

“The people who sell computers have already geared new technology, product launches and advertising campaigns. Now they’re sitting there waiting for Windows 98,” said Peter Kastner, chief research officer at Aberdeen Group Inc. “There are millions, approaching billions, of dollars of trade come June 25 that could be delayed.”

A counter argument is that Microsoft and resellers couldn’t buy the free publicity the government has created.

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