Microsoft asks for extension to make changes to Windows 98

WASHINGTON (AP) — Micro Corp. asked a federal judge Thursday to delay for at least seven months the government’s demand to make immediate changes to Windows 98, which goes on sale June 25.
“We obviously want to get this issue resolved as soon as possible,” company spokesman Mark Murray said. “But we need a reasonable amount of time to respond to the government’s request for a preliminary injunction, which would be extremely far-reaching.”
Critics, citing the fast-paced change of the industry, said they would oppose Microsoft’s request.
“This prolonged delay would serve no one’s interests except Microsoft, which could continue its anti-competitive practices and stall court action until Windows 99 or 2000,” said Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, whose state is among the 20 suing Microsoft.
Some legal experts said it is unlikely the judge will agree to a seven-month delay.
“They won’t get it, but they’ll get something,” said Robert Levy of the Washington-based Cato Institute, who opposes the antitrust cases. “I guess that’s their strategy: Ask for the world, and be happy if you get half.”
U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, who also handled earlier filings in related cases against Microsoft, scheduled a hearing Friday. It was unclear whether he would rule immediately on Microsoft’s requests.
The government wants computer manufacturers to be allowed to choose whether they want Microsoft’s Internet browser or one from rival Netscape Communications Inc. installed on machines with Windows 98. The government wants those changes imposed before the software upgrade goes on sale next month, but it has said it won’t try to block the sale of Windows 98.
Microsoft proposed to the judge that it be given seven months to get copies of relevant documents, conduct interviews and file a response to the government injunctions.
“The government has had 18 months to build its complaint,” said Microsoft’s Murray. “We obviously want the opportunity to refute all that, and that will take some time.”