To the long list of sworn Microsoft ennemies, add US Senator Orrin Hatch, a Republican from Utah. He is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is planning to hold hearings investigating Microsoft's business practices.
On Thursday, Orrin Hatch spoke at a conference organised by the Progress & Freedom foundation, a conservative think tank reportedly funded in part by a number of large software companies. The conference was called 'Competition, Convergence and the Microsoft Monopoly'.
In his speech, Orrin Hatch said that Microsoft must not be allowed to dominate the Internet. He suggested that, it Microsoft could not be contained, this might necessitate government regulation of the Internet - in the form of an Internet Commerce Commission.
"It seems far better to have antitrust enforcement today than heavy-handed regulation of the Internet tomorrow", he was quoted as saying.
The speech by Hatch suggests that Microsoft will be under close scrutiny from the Senate Judiciary Committee he chairs. The investigations by the this committee are separate from the those of the Department of Justice. Microsoft also faces legal challenges from a third source: 11 US States have subpoenaed documents and are considering their own antitrust suits against the company.
Meanwhile, the DoJ appears to be expanding its investigation of Microsoft. More documents have been subpoenaed from a number of Microsoft partners. Reportedly, some of these documents concern Microsoft's Active Channels. Active Channels are content especially made for Active Desktop, a part of Microsoft's Internet Explorer 4.0.
A number of these channels are pre-set in the Active Desktop. Some sources are speculating that the DoJ is interpreting this as a tying of Internet content to Microsoft Windows, though these suggestions are unconfirmed. Microsoft officials have pointed out that adding pre-sets is common practice, and that Netscape's competing Netcaster product does exactly the same.
Earlier the same week, Microsoft scored its first modest victory in its legal battle with the DoJ. The court of appeals temporarily halted the work of court-appointed expert Lawrence Lessig, accused by Microsoft of being prejudiced against the company. This may delay the progress of the DoJ case enough to make sure Windows 98 is already on the market before a decision is reached.
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