Microsoft Corp’s proposed $425m acquisition of WebTV Networks Inc, announced last month (CI No 3,135), is being investigated by the US Justice Department, following complaints by competitors citing anti-trust laws. Microsoft says it believes the inquiries are routine, and expects to merger to be approved shortly. The Wall Street Journal named Sun Microsystems, Oracle Corp and Netscape Communications Corp – the last two involved in merger activities of their own in this market area (CI No 3,164) – as possible sources of the complaints. Another competitor, NetChannel Inc, was quoted as welcoming the move, because it created an opportunity for companies with an alternative system. Meanwhile, tiny MSU Corp, the Milton Keynes, UK-based Internet appliance firm that has licensed its technology to Zilog Corp, sent out a statement saying that it had no comment regarding the news. Tight-lipped as it apparently was, MSU couldn’t resist pointing out that, while Microsoft’s purchase had given validity to the marketplace for television-based internet access appliances, MSU’s Slipstream product enabled users to remain with their current Internet Service Provider, whereas the WebTV product offered only WebTV as a service provider. MSU licenses its technology, WebTV does not, continued the statement, and moreover, WebTV has an encryption problem which restricts its sales to the US market; MSU’s technology does not, which means it can be shipped anywhere worldwide. No comment.