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Justice Department Speeds Up MSN Inquiry

Subpoenas have been issued to companies intending to provide content for Microsoft Network (MSN), the online service Microsoft Corporation plans to bundle with Windows 95, its 32-bit operating system due to ship August 24. So far Microsoft claims to have signed up 150 U.S. and 75 foreign content providers.

Scrambling to cover all the bases before the August launch, the U.S. Justice Department is seeking any documents sent or received by either Microsoft or the content providers since July 1993 that pertain to estimates of the potential number of MSN subscribers. The deadline for submitting these documents is June 23.

In order to proceed so soon after the Intuit inquiry, say antitrust lawyers, the Justice Department will need clearly damning evidence that Microsoft intended to use its operating system dominance to take over the online service market.