A group of top IT executives have signed a letter to the US Department of Justice (DOJ) arguing that any delay in the release of Microsoft's Windows 98 operating system will hurt the industry, according to published reports.
The list is a who's who of leading executives, including Andy Grove, chairman of Intel; Michael Dell, chairman and chief executive officer of Dell Computer; Eckhard Pfeiffer, CEO of Compaq, and Lewis Platt, CEO of Hewlett-Packard, along with 22 others.
The letter was sent to Joel Klein, the assistant attorney general who heads the DOJ's antitrust division, according to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.
"Our success depends on the freedom of Microsoft and the rest of America's personal computer industry to create new and innovative products," the Times quoted the letter as saying.
The DOJ has been investigating Microsoft's business practices related to the bundling of its Internet Explorer browser with the Windows operating system. The DOJ alleges that Microsoft is trying to dominate the browser market through the anticompetitive practice of bundling the software with the operating system. Microsoft has begun to offer PC vendors an unbundled version, but many top vendors -- including those whose leaders signed the letter -- have said their customers want Microsoft's bundled software.
Dell was among those who testified on Microsoft's behalf during a hearing of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, and was sharply questioned about why his company refused to offer most customers software that competes with Microsoft's.
According to the Journal, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, executive vice president, asked executives to sign the letter.
Besides the DOJ investigation, Microsoft is under scrutiny in more than half of the US states and lawsuits are expected to be filed against the software maker in the coming weeks, possibly to block the release of Windows 98, expected out in June. Microsoft also is being investigated by the European Commission.