Microsoft in denial as Win98 date beckons

Microsoft seems calmly confident nothing will interfere with the launch of Windows 98 on June 25 - either that or in denial. Despite speculation last week that at least 10 US states and the US Department of Justice (DOJ) would announce legal action preventing the product going out to computer manufacturers last Friday, Microsoft New Zealand marketing manager Guy Haycock says the company has no contingency plan should such action eventuate.

Microsoft seems calmly confident nothing will interfere with the launch of Windows 98 on June 25 - either that or in denial.

Despite speculation last week that at least 10 US states and the US Department of Justice (DOJ) would announce legal action preventing the product going out to computer manufacturers last Friday, Microsoft New Zealand marketing manager Guy Haycock says the company has no contingency plan should such action eventuate.

"How can we have a contingency plan when we don't know what they're going to do. We're going to watch and see what they do," he says. "There is a slim chance that we won't be able to launch Windows 98. But right now there is nothing to prevent it shipping."

Haycock cites the fact that last week a US appeals court excluded Windows 98 from a lower court order that bars Microsoft from forcing computer makers to offer Internet Explorer with its Windows 95 operating system.

While the court will continue to review an appeal of the December preliminary injunction, the decision freed Microsoft to ship Windows 98 to PC manufacturers on May 15 as scheduled, barring last-minute legal action by the states or the DOJ. New Zealand PC manufacturers could expect the product in the next two weeks.

Meanwhile, PC manufacturers are waiting. PC Direct marketing manager Richard Moss says, "If it doesn't ship or ships altered we'll just have to cross that bridge when we come to it. However, it looks likely that it will go ahead and we will be ready in time for D-day on June 25."

Sun also entered the fray last week by asking another federal court to stop Microsoft from shipping Windows 98 with Java code that is incompatible with Sun's version of Java.

And the controversy doesn't stop there. Whatever the shipment date, and however it ships, Microsoft employees are likely to come under pressure.

Microsoft's US headquarters has decreed that, in the first days of its release, Windows 98 must match the sales of the much-hyped Windows 95 in the corresponding time frame, according to Phil Meyer, Microsoft Australia's Internet and applications development customer unit manager.

Microsoft New Zealand's Haycock says he will not talk about the company's internal sales targets.

However, even if the number of PCs capable of running Windows 98 is greater than those that were Windows 95-capable, the catch is that the Windows 98 sales will have to be made minus the saturation of advertising surrounding Windows 95 and without the corporate market, which the company is reserving for Windows NT.

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