While Microsoft Corp.--in deference to the U.S. Department of Justice-- is offering hardware vendors the chance to regress to its first release of Windows 95, it's also charging ahead with delivery of its next-generation, fully integrated Windows 95 release.
Microsoft last week delivered to a handful of its top hardware partners a single OSR2.5 CD, which includes Internet Explorer 4.01 fully integrated with the latest Windows 95 code, Microsoft officials confirmed. The rest of Microsoft's hardware OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) can expect to receive the OSR2.5 installation CD by next week, confirmed Shannon Perdue, Windows product manager.
"It's optional for OEMs as to whether or not they offer their customers OSR2.5," Perdue said. "The advantage is they'll be able to preload it from a single CD or include just one CD in the box, instead of two, as they currently do."
OSR2.5, which Microsoft beta tested with its hardware partners over the past month, is a point upgrade to Windows 95. Besides including fully integrated IE 4.01 code, it also includes updates of online services clients; DirectX 5.0 code; support for additional audio and video USB devices; and all the bug fixes and feature updates that Microsoft has made to Windows 95 during the past two years.
Microsoft officials maintained that the delivery to OEMs of OSR2.5 is not in violation of the 1995 Consent Decree, which prohibited the company from "tying" the licensing of unrelated products because OEMs have a choice as to whether or not to install OSR2.5.
Last week, U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ordered Microsoft to stop requiring hardware vendors to include IE on their machines as a condition of installing Windows. Earlier this week, Microsoft appealed the preliminary injunction, while offering a plan to put the company in compliance. This plan consisted of offering OEMs the option of licensing the original release of Windows 95, which did not include integrated IE 3.0 files. Microsoft's competitors and market analysts have questioned whether such an unattractive option is within the bounds of compliance.
Microsoft also is continuing to move forward with its full Windows 95 upgrade, Windows 98. Late last week, the company posted to its website the last full-fledged Windows 98 Beta release, Beta 3. According to Microsoft's plans, Windows 98, like OSR2.5, will include IE 4.X as a fully integrated piece of the operating system. Windows 98 is on target to ship in the second quarter of 1998, Microsoft officials said.