Microsoft again urges court to overturn order

Microsoft has again urged a federal court to overturn a lower court order that it must offer PC manufacturers the option of licensing Windows 95 without its Internet Explorer browser, arguing that the order was based on a misinterpretation by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) of a 1995 consent decree.

Microsoft has again urged a federal court to overturn a lower court order that it must offer PC manufacturers the option of licensing Windows 95 without its Internet Explorer browser, arguing that the order was based on a misinterpretation by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) of a 1995 consent decree.

Microsoft's brief filed with the US Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia was part of a normal filing procedure in response to the DOJ's brief of last week.

In its brief, Microsoft argued that the 1995 consent decree explicitly allows the company to create integrated products, and that the Internet Explorer technology has been integrated into Windows 95 since the first versions were shipped to computer makers in July 1995.

Also in the brief, Microsoft argued it was not given the opportunity, as required by law, to officially dispute a proposed injunction since it was not given notice before the injunction was made.

The DOJ "seeks to convert a dispute over the meaning of a consent decree provision into some kind of morality play, with Microsoft cast as the villain for asserting its due process rights," the brief said.

"We believe every software company must have the ability to innovate and add new features for their customers. The preliminary injunction would have a chilling effect on innovation throughout the software industry," said William Neukom, Microsoft senior vice president for law and corporate affairs, in a statement.

Microsoft is scheduled to present oral arguments before the appellate court on April 21.

The DOJ took Microsoft to court last October claiming the software giant was violating a 1995 antitrust consent decree by forcing OEMs to license Internet Explorer along with Windows 95. U.S. District Judge Thomas Jackson issued a preliminary order on Dec. 11, 1997, requiring Microsoft to unbundle Internet Explorer from Windows 95. When Microsoft said it could only comply by offering original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) an outdated version of Windows 95 or a crippled version, the DOJ asked the court to hold the software vendor in contempt of court for not following the Dec. 11 order.

The two sides came to an agreement in late January to settle the contempt of court case, with Microsoft agreeing to offer Windows 95 versions with the Internet Explorer icon removed. However, Microsoft persisted in filing its appeal of the preliminary injunction, arguing that the judge did not follow proper procedures in imposing his order.

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