The US Department of Justice (DoJ) as well as attorneys general from 20 US States and the District of Columbia on Monday filed antitrust lawsuits against Microsoft, saying that the company's business practices risk putting a "chokehold" on the software industry.
The DoJ's suit, filed in US District Court, accuses Microsoft of unfairly using the monopoly advantage it has with its Windows operating system to gain a larger share of other software markets, including Internet browsers.
Damage is already occurring in the marketplace, computer manufacturers are being denied options and "products are being forced through the stream of commerce", said assistant US attorney general Joel Klein.
"Today's action is intended to ensure that consumers and the computer manufacturers have the right to choose which software they want installed and not have that software chosen for them," said Janet Reno, US attorney general.
The Government suit does not seek to block the software giant from releasing Windows 98, but it would require Microsoft to include arch-rival Netscape's Internet browser with Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) in Windows 98, which is due out commercially in June.
If Microsoft does not want to include Netscape, it must unbundle IE from Windows 98.
The DoJ and State lawsuits overlapped on the following demands:
-- The end of Microsoft's practice of forcing Windows 98 purchasers to take Microsoft's Internet browser. If Microsoft insists on including its browser in Windows 98 it should also include Netscape's browser. If Microsoft does not include Netscape's browser, it must unbundle its own browser.
-- The requirement that Microsoft give to computer manufacturers the right to install their own first screen at the conclusion of the initial bootup sequence.
-- Require Microsoft to give computer manufacturers additional options for installing browser software on new computers.
-- Forbid Microsoft from enforcing contractual provisions that require providers of Internet and online services and Internet content providers to limit their distribution and promotion of competing browsers.