Microsoft released the final beta of Windows 98 this week but is insisting that the current investigation by the Department of Justice (DoJ) has no bearing on the bundling of Internet functionality with the operating environment.
The beta is being distributed on a wide basis in the US and the same procedure will take place soon here in the UK, a representative said.
The UK version incorporates Internet Explorer into the interface and comes ready with content channels, including the BBC, BSkyB, the 'Financial Times', Virgin Net and the 'New Scientist'.
A panel at the bottom of screen includes a direct link to Internet Explorer and to the channels available, as an integral part of the environment.
The Microsoft representative said: "The whole of the current court proceedings are based around the 1994 consent agreement [with the DoJ]. The whole argument is about Windows 95. Microsoft is fighting this battle on the Windows 95 front but these arguments do not affect Windows 98."
He said that John Frank, Microsoft's senior corporate attorney for Europe, was on record as saying that Microsoft was going forward with its plans for Windows 98 but was "mindful of what the US courts" said.
Other elements in Window 98 invite beta testers to join the Microsoft Network while the help system depends on Web pages at the Microsoft site, which are accessed using Internet Explorer. There appears to be little way to circumvent using IE with the operating environment.
According to the representative, Microsoft is still on target to release the complete operating environment in the second half of this year.
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