The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has demanded that Microsoft should reveal its source code for the Windows 95 and 98 operating systems, in a move that could make or break the software giant's anti-trust case.
Microsoft asked for the entire case to be thrown out, claiming it will present issues that disprove the DoJ's accusations that it has behaved in an anti-competitive way.
But a spokeswoman for the DoJ told PC Week: "The judge was indifferent to Microsoft's plea. We are positive he will hear the case on 8 September."
Microsoft has argued all along that its Internet Explorer browser cannot be unbundled from the operating system because it is intrinsic to the working of the operating system. The DoJ wants the source code revealed to see how closely integrated the products are.
"At last somebody at the DoJ has wised up - until now they have been one step behind Microsoft," commented Andy Mulholland, IT analyst at Cap Gemini. "If you look at a house you can tell if it has been built onto, and it is the same with Microsoft's source code."
In an ironic twist of fate, the expert witnesses who will be brought in to look at the source code by the court are likely to be the same experts from the US defence department who were the original developers of the Internet.
They will make their decision before the trial starts on 8 September and this evidence will be presented in court. Microsoft claimed the move to request access to the source code was designed to "obstruct (its) pretrial preparation".
Eric Brown, IT analyst with Forrester Research, said: "If the court discovers Microsoft did snap on Internet Explorer and decides to set a precedent and call this anti-trust behaviour, Microsoft will have to change its entire business model, leaving the company extremely exposed and weakened."
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