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No Microsoft Network for Windows 95

Various media outlets are reporting that Microsoft Corporation is busy making contingency plans to remove its Microsoft Network (MSN) online software from Windows 95, just in case the Department of Justice imposes an injunction that prevents the company from bundling the software.

The Department of Justice is racing against Microsoft's August 24 launch date for Windows 95. This 32-bit version of the Windows operating system initially will be targeted at small business and home users. Corporate sites are not expected to migrate to Windows 95 until mid-1996.

Microsoft officials reiterated that they will not voluntarily unbundle MSN from Windows 95. The DOJ is exploring whether or not the bundling arrangement will give the Redmond, Washington, software giant an unfair competitive advantage over rivals.

Last week, analysts at Dataquest released figures estimating that MSN will gain 1.3 million subscribers by the end of this year. That total will likely blossom to 2.6 million users by the end of 1996, which would put MSN even with rival America Online, the current market leader.

Microsoft got some help from Sen. Robert Dole last week. During a debate on telecommunications reform, Dole decried the DOJ's Microsoft inquiry as ``out of control."