Microsoft sank deeper into a legal quagmire last week as the evidence mounted up against it in its legal battle with the Department of Justice (DoJ). Last week, the DoJ released a damning Email which, it alleges, shows the software giant deliberately planned to use Windows' dominance to win the browser war. The Email is an internal memo dated December 1996 from Jim Allchin, Microsoft senior vice president, to Paul Maritz, group vice president. In it, Allchin is quoted as saying: "Treating IE (Internet Explorer) as just an add-on to Windows ... is losing our biggest advantage, Windows market share. We should think first about an integrated solution - that is our strength." The DoJ's central allegation is that Microsoft behaved anti-competitively by forcing PC suppliers to bundle the browser with Windows. This enabled the company to rapidly close the gap. Microsoft insisted that Allchin's Email had been misinterpreted by the DoJ. The law case continues to progress through American courts. Following this blow came more bad news for Microsoft, when an influential US industry body threw its weight behind attempts to penalise the software giant. The Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) announced publicly that action should be taken against Microsoft. "As an advocate for the industry, we believe it is in the best interest of competition, consumer choice and the future of the Internet that Microsoft be prohibited from making these restrictive and anti-competitive licensing agreements with manufacturers," declared Ed Black, CCIA president. He added: "CCIA agrees with Justice that by forcing the IE browser to be combined with its dominant Windows operating system, Microsoft could unfairly undermine competition. "The action requested by the DoJ will allow PC manufacturers to choose freely among competing Internet browsers, thereby establishing a more level playing field between Microsoft and its competitors," he concluded. Microsoft: survey shows good news There was some good news for Microsoft amid the gloom last week. A survey carried out by two US pollsters found that the majority of the US public believes the software firm is in the right in its tussle with the DoJ. According to the poll of 1,200 Americans, 70% think the matter of Microsoft's business practices should be left to the free market to decide. Only 15% said the government should interfere to regulate the Internet software market. The survey was sponsored by Microsoft.
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