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PC makers unfazed by order

Microsoft's court order will probably have little effect on the way computer manufacturers do business.

Yesterday's court order temporarily stopping Microsoft from requiring PC makers to take its Internet Explorer browser with Windows 95 will probably have little effect on the way those companies do business.

A primary reason is cost: Explorer comes free to the computer makers, while Netscape Communications charges a per-computer license fee for its Navigator browser that has been estimated between $5 and $10.

Analysts have also speculated that PC manufacturers will continue to load IE onto their machines because they are loathe to do anything that will offend Microsoft.

"Our business today is the same as it was yesterday. See special report: MS-DOJ case in court We haven't studied the judge's decision in detail, but it doesn't have an effect on our business," said T.R. Reid, corporate spokesperson for Dell Computer.

"Customers expect their systems to come from Dell with an OS and a browser. The most cost-effective way to provide that browser is by providing IE 4.0," he added.

IBM spokesman James Sciales said the decision will not likely alter Big Blue's business. The company provides a choice between Navigator and IE on their Aptiva home computers. IBM also provides Netscape on its corporate machines.

Sciales did not know whether bundling Navigator increases the price on any models, but he said the choice of browser on the cost of a computer is likely invisible to the consumer.

Reid said Dell customers can get Navigator, but they have to order it as an option through the company's Readyware program. "I expect it to be more of an issue for a business, when they have standardized on one kind of browser," he said.

However, his company seems to go out of its way to hide the Netscape option. Netscape and Navigator are virtually nonexistent on Dell's Web page, and Navigator is not listed as a software option on its computers. Searches on the words "Netscape" and "Navigator" turn up no documents.

Micron Electronics also remained committed to the Microsoft licensing deal. "We will continue to bundle IE 4 with Windows 95," spokeswoman Denise Smith told Reuters. "It's what our customers are demanding."