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September 17, 1998

JUDGE REJECTS MICROSOFT’S PLEA FOR LIMITED TRIAL

By CBR Staff Writer

The judge presiding over Microsoft Corp’s antitrust case has denied the company’s request to limit the scope of the trial by excluding broader allegations brought about by the Justice Department earlier this month that Microsoft illegally attempted to pressure Intel Corp, Apple Computer Inc, Intuit Inc and RealNetworks Inc into conforming with its plans to eliminate the potential threats to its business. US District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ruled Thursday that he would not exclude any issues from the case at present, but would instead examine them on a case-by-case basis after the trial begins – leaving open the possibility that certain allegations may be dismissed later. A Microsoft spokesperson said the company views the ruling as merely a postponement of the decision and described Jackson’s pledge to look at things case-by-case as a positive sign. He said the judge even told Microsoft’s lawyers that they may be right about the issue of inclusion. The company had been trying to get the expanded evidence against it barred from the case on the grounds that it had been unfairly introduced on the eve of the trial and that it was not left with enough time to prepare a wider defense. Two weeks ago, Judge Jackson forced Microsoft to turn over evidence connected to the new allegations, which many saw as an indicator that the judge would allow the charges to be introduced in court. In another bit of bad news for Microsoft, America Online Inc chief executive Steve Case has publicly stated that he chose the company’s Internet Explorer browser over Netscape Communications Corp’s competing product due to a promise of prominent placement in the Windows 95 operating system. The statement by Case offers support to the government’s contention that Microsoft used its virtual stranglehold over PC operating systems to gain ground in the market for web browsers, specifically with regard to AOL. The software giant has asserted all along that there was nothing illegal about its licensing agreements.

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