Attorneys general from nearly a dozen states are likely to take action against Microsoft next week, possibly as early as Monday or Tuesday, by seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent the shipment of Windows 98.
According to sources close to the case, the states - including Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, West Virginia, Texas, New York, Illinois, Florida, Iowa, South Carolina and Minnesota - would file in their own jurisdictions but move simultaneously to give leverage to their complaints, which centre on violations of state statutes.
First reports that the states would likely file a request for a preliminary injunction appeared Monday
Sources said one of the reasons for requesting the preliminary injunction is because shipment of Windows 98 is seen as violating both U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's Dec. 11 preliminary injunction as well as the 1995 consent decree.
In his order, which is currently under appeal, Judge Jackson stated that Microsoft is "enjoined and shall cease and desist from and after the date hereof the practice of licensing the use of any Microsoft personal computer operating systems software [including Windows 95 or any successor version thereof] on the condition, express or implied, that the licensees also license and preinstall any Microsoft Internet browser software [including Internet Explorer 3.0, 4.0 or any successor version thereof] pending further order of the Court."
At present it is unclear if the U.S. Department of Justice will also be part of next week's filing or will seek an injunction separately.
The states have been investigating Microsoft for more than a year, and last fall joined forces to investigate the company jointly. Texas took the first stab when it filed suit against Microsoft so that OEMs and ISVs could be freed from their NDA agreements and provide information to the States. The courts ruled against Texas.
The move by the states may come before a next action from the DOJ, which is also working on building a bigger case against Microsoft surrounding Windows 98 and other anti-competitive practices. That case could be brought within the next month, according to sources.
The DOJ refused to comment on the investigation, other than to say it is still looking into Microsoft's practices and tactics. Officials at some of the state AG offices also refused to comment.
Microsoft officials were unavailable at press time