Tech Industry

MS-Netscape meeting questioned

The DOJ reportedly is investigating Microsoft for allegedly trying to persuade Netscape to only market browsers for non-Windows platforms.

Federal prosecutors are investigating Microsoft for allegedly trying to persuade Netscape Communications to market only Web browsers for non-Windows operating systems, according to a report.

According to today's Wall Street Journal, which cites "people close to the case," Justice Department investigators are focusing on a May 1995 meeting between high-level executives from both companies. In the report, a Microsoft spokesman denied that the company attempted to collude with Netscape.

If federal investigators conclude that the talks were an attempt by Microsoft to use its monopoly power in personal computer software to neutralize a potential competitor, the incident would add a new element to allegations of anticompetitive behavior by the software giant.


CNET Radio talks to antitrust attorney Robert Heller
 
In the report, a spokesman for Microsoft denied that the company ever attempted to collude with Netscape, saying that the allegation is being forwarded by Netscape in an attempt to advance the company's political agenda.

The DOJ originally brought its antitrust action against Microsoft in October, alleging that the software giant was in contempt of court for violating the 1995 consent decree. Specifically, the government alleged, requirements that Windows 95 licensees preinstall Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser flouted terms forbidding the bundling of separate products.

The company has fought the action vigorously, saying that Internet Explorer is integrated into Windows and that the consent decree--which Microsoft and the government negotiated to head off an earlier antitrust fight--expressly allows such integration.

The DOJ has broadened its investigation to look at allegations that Microsoft unfairly used Windows as a means of dominating Internet software as well, the report added.