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Tech Industry

A history of Microsoft investigations

The Department of Justice, which some critics complain has been slow to move against Microsoft, slaps the software giant with charges of antitrust violations.

Microsoft, facing antitrust investigations at Microscope on Microsoft the federal and state levels, today faced new action by the Justice Department. The department, which some critics complain has been slow to move against the software giant, charged Microsoft with violating a 1995 court order.

Probes of Microsoft's business practices
1990 Federal Trade Commission begins investigating Microsoft's software marketing practices. Focuses on the possible anticompetitive nature of "tie-in" sales of applications and operating systems.
1993 Justice Department takes over the investigation.

1994 Microsoft and Justice Department reach a settlement that regulates Microsoft's marketing practices through the year 2000. Microsoft agrees that OS licenses must not contain conditions that apply to other MS software.

DOJ files suit to halt Microsoft's $2 billion acquisition of Intuit.

1995 Microsoft and Intuit cancel merger plans to avoid a legal fight.

U.S. District Judge Stanley Sporkin refuses to sign the '94 settlement, saying it does not go far enough.

U.S. Appeals Court overturns Sporkin's decision.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Jackson approves the settlement.

Justice Department says that it will continue its investigation of Microsoft. Looks at whether the MS plan to bundle Microsoft Network with Win 95 is anticompetitive.

Under the 1995 court order, Microsoft is prohibited from forcing computer makers to license any other Microsoft product as a condition of licensing Windows 95.

1996 Netscape files a complaint with the Justice Department, alleging Microsoft used unfair and anticompetitive practices in promoting its Internet Explorer browser. Netscape charges that Microsoft offered computer makers a $3 discount on Windows 95 software if the vendor did not install Navigator. Microsoft denies the allegation.

Justice Department requests documents from Microsoft regarding its browser agreements with computer manufacturers and sellers.

Justice Department asks Netscape for documents for a formal investigation of Microsoft. The investigation is still pending.

1997 State of Texas launches a formal antitrust investigation of Microsoft's business practices on the Internet. It is the first state to conduct its own probe of the software giant.

Justice Department requests further information on Microsoft's plan to acquire WebTV. Says it is part of its regular review of mergers.

State of Massachusetts begins an antitrust investigation of Microsoft.

Justice Department asks a federal court to hold Microsoft in civil contempt for violating terms of the 1995 court order barring it from imposing anticompetitive licensing terms on manufacturers of personal computers. The DOJ seeks to impose a $1 million-per-day fine if violation of the court order continues.

A more detailed listing of the federal government's cases involving Microsoft can be found on this Justice Department Web page.

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