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Microsoft sweetens own java deal

The software giant is selling a "Windows 98 Roast" blend of coffee, as well as a CD featuring music by which to install the new OS.

Microsoft is embracing java these days--but not the well-known programming language.

Rather, the software giant began offering a dark coffee, called "Windows 98 Roast," through Borders Books Music and Café last month.

The brew was Borders' whole-bean coffee of the month for July, in honor of Microsoft's June 25 release of its latest operating system software, Windows 98.

Although the software giant's foray into coffee sales isn't likely to attract the attention of antitrust regulators, the brew did sell well enough that Borders has extended the promotion through August. One hot spot: Microsoft's home turf, which also happens to be Starbucks territory.

"It was selling best in the Seattle area," Borders spokeswoman Jody Kohn said. "The percentage of sales were higher there."

Lisa Poulson, a spokeswoman for Sun Microsystems, which licenses the Java programming language and is embroiled in a lawsuit with Microsoft over the technology, had this to say about the coffee blend: "We'll see how pure this implementation of java is."

Borders touted the coffee as "a proprietary dark roast that's expertly crafted using the finest Indonesian and South American Arabica coffee beans," with "a vibrant, bold, rich flavor." A 12-ounce vacuum-sealed package sells for $6.99.

Rob Bennett, Microsoft group product manager for Windows 98, said that many of Microsoft's partners approached the company with innovative ideas for the OS launch but that "this was definitely one of the cooler promotions."

Among some of the other promotions that took off was one sponsored by computer retailer CompUSA called "midnight madness" that allowed impatient Microsoft loyalists to buy the latest-and-greatest OS at 12 a.m. on the day of its release. Many stores also offered $98 PCs to a handful of customers who were first in line.

"We're talking good Pentium IIs, loaded machines," Bennett said.

Keeping the hype alive, Borders also is offering a free jazz CD to anyone who buys a Windows 98 book by McMillan Publishing, while supplies last.

The album, produced by Rhino Records, features 12 tracks, including melodies by Ray Charles and The Modern Jazz Quartet. The CD, titled "Music to Install Windows 98 by," also features songs by Mose Allison, Jackie Paris, Herbie Mann, and Manhattan Transfer, among others.

Both promotions are available at 215 Borders bookstores nationwide.

Windows 98 sales appear to have exceeded expectations by most accounts.

"We're super-pleased with the promotions, and we're really encouraged by the early sales," Bennett said. "We sold 1 million units very early on."