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A Lump of Coal for Bill

  The Netly News / Afternoon Line (http://netlynews.com/)
  December 12, 1997
  A Lump of Coal for Bill
     Score the first round to the Department of Justice. Yesterday, federal
     judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ordered Microsoft to stop using its
     operating system's popularity to force-feed Internet Explorer to
     computer makers. Good tidings for critics of the Boy Billionaire, who
     have been apocalyptically forecasting the coming Microsoft millennium.
     The ruling is only a preliminary one, however, and Jackson promised
     "further proceedings" to come and assigned a "special master" to delve
     into the case's technical intricacies and report back by May 31. The
     government didn't get everything it wanted, such as a slap-in-the-face
     fine of a million bucks a day. Microsoft gadfly Ralph Nader complained
     that Bill Gates got off easy: "I'm not saying it's a total defeat. But
     on a scale of 1 to 10, Justice got a 2." Douglas Melamed, principal
     deputy assistant attorney general for antitrust, was more upbeat.
     "This case is about preserving the options of OEMs [computer
     manufacturers] and customers. If OEMs want to sell machines without
     Internet Explorer, they won't. The key is preserving the choice," he
     told the Netly News today. -- By Declan McCullagh and Bruce van