Texas Attorney General backing off Microsoft, citing local firms

The Texas Attorney General's office is backing off its participation in a multi-state antitrust investigation of Microsoft at the behest of computer companies located in the state. 'Before contemplating any legal action against Microsoft, I feel it is prudent and wise to personally hear the concerns of our Texas-based computer companies,' Attorney general Dan Morales says. The CEOs of Compaq, Dell, Computer City and CompUSA, all of Texas, were among 26 high-tech executives who signed a letter to the DOJ saying a delay in the release of Windows 98 would harm the industry.

The Texas Attorney General's office is backing off its participation in a multi-state antitrust investigation of Microsoft at the behest of computer companies located in the state, the attorney general's office has said in a press release.

"Before contemplating any legal action against Microsoft, I feel it is prudent and wise to personally hear the concerns of our Texas-based computer companies," Attorney General Dan Morales said in the statement. "I expect to meet with some of them over the next few weeks to discuss these concerns. In the meantime, we will continue to look into this matter to ensure that Texas consumers are protected."

Attorneys general from at least 10 and as many as 20 states are reportedly preparing to file an antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft on Thursday or Friday, possibly in conjunction with a broad antitrust lawsuit by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The legal actions would possibly prevent Microsoft from releasing Windows 98 to computer manufacturers on Friday as scheduled.

Morales said he had received letters over the past few weeks from "several officials of Texas' computer industry who have expressed concerns that the filing of a lawsuit against Microsoft may negatively impact their companies as well as the consumers of this state."

The chief executive officers of Compaq, Dell, Computer City and CompUSA, all of Texas, were among 26 high-tech executives who signed a letter dated April 30 that was sent to the DOJ saying a delay in the release of Windows 98 would harm the industry.

The Texas Attorney General was the first state to pursue Microsoft, filing a lawsuit last year that argued that Microsoft's confidentiality agreements with computer manufacturers interfered with a state investigation into the software giant's business practices by silencing licensees. A district court judge dismissed the lawsuit in February. [See "UPDATE: Texas Judge Says Microsoft NDAs Are OK" Feb. 17. ]

Also today a federal appeals court ruled that Windows 98 is not subject to a preliminary injunction barring Microsoft from forcing computer makers to license Internet Explorer when it licenses Windows 95 [See "UPDATE: Appeals Court Liberates Windows 98 from Injunction" May 12. ], and Sun Microsystems Inc. asked a federal court to stop Microsoft from shipping Windows 98 with Java code that is incompatible with Sun's version of Java. [See "UPDATE: Sun Sues to Block Windows 98 With Java Incompatibility" May 12. ]

Microsoft, in Redmond, Washington, can be reached at +1-425-882-8080 or at http://www.microsoft.com/. The Texas attorney general's office has a home page at http://www.oag.state.tx.us/ and can be reached at +1-512-463-2050.

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