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Microsoft Temporarily Barred from Requiring IE

U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson has returned a preliminary injunction in the U.S. Justice Department case against Microsoft Corp. He said that Microsoft must temporarily cease requiring computer makers who license Windows 95 to also license and pre-install Internet Explorer. Microsoft had argued that Internet Explorer was part of Windows 95 and that the bundling met consumer demand, but in rejecting that position, the judge argued that not bundling Internet Explorer with Windows 95 wouldn’t cause Microsoft a significant hardship since Internet Explorer is also available separately. However, Jackson denied the Justice Department request to hold Microsoft in contempt for violating an 1995 antitrust agreement aimed at fostering competition in the computer industry. The contempt charge would have carried a $1 million per day fine. Although Microsoft spokesman Mark Murray called the decision "mixed," it is clearly a blow to Microsoft and a boon to Netscape Communications. The case is not over, and the judge ordered that a special judicial officer, cyberspace law expert Lawrence Lessig, be appointed to consider the case and report by 31-May-98. Lessig helped teach the online course "Internet Law for Non-Lawyers."

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