MS expects no legal hassles on Win 98

Microsoft said today it expects no problems from regulatory bodies when it releases Windows 98 in the April-June quarter this year.

Although Microsoft has long been the subject of close scrutiny by the US Department of Justice, the EC and other business practice watchers, the firm claims that the integration of the Internet Explorer 4.0 Web browser with the next version of Microsoft's operating system will put it beyond the scope of legitimate concern.

"The argument is whether we illegally tied our Internet and operating system products; it's not about integration," said Andrew Lees, director of product marketing and Internet groups at Microsoft.

Lees added that Microsoft is not developing any alternative product or strategy for fear that anti-monopoly bodies will rule against Windows 98 in its current form.

"We're completely confident there will be no problems. There is no contingency plan and we don't anticipate any delays," he said.

Separately, Less defended the inclusion of what he called "base level services" in operating systems.

"You need a base set of things like a TCP/IP stack otherwise you get fragmentation issues like with Unix where stacks compete with each other and break each other. We're in the middle of migrating Internet features to the operating system and you need to describe the user interface in one way."

Lees said Microsoft will continue to add features to its operating system where relevant, suggesting that natural language processing could be a forthcoming OS feature.

"Products evolve. If we tried to sell the product of five years ago, people would laugh at us."