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Reports: Netscape Complains to Government About Microsoft

August 7, 1996

NEW YORK (AP) _ Netscape Communications Corp. complained to the Justice Department that Microsoft Corp. is unfairly preventing some computer users from using Netscape software to create World Wide Web sites, newspapers reported today.

Netscape says users of the less costly Windows NT Workstation operating system can use its software to create web sites, but that Microsoft intentionally limits the number of Internet connections to make that impractical.

Instead, Netscape claims, Microsoft steers users to its Windows NT Server software, which is more expensive and comes with other Microsoft programs, including one that competes with Netscape’s Fastrack Server program, already installed.

Windows NT is a variation of Windows used to run computers connected to vast networks.

The complaint is in response to Microsoft’s objections to what it contends are deceptive price comparisons used by Netscape, according to reports in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Washington Post.

At the Justice Department, spokesman Bill Brooks said, ``We cannot comment on any complaints we may or may not have received.″ But he repeated that the antitrust division continues its ``investigation of the software industry, looking at anticompetitive practices.″

Netscape promoted use of its Fastrack Server software with Microsoft’s NT Workstation as an affordable way for businesses to operate Internet servers _ computers that store data for retrieval on the Internet.

But Microsoft says a more powerful version of the Windows NT software _ designed specifically for servers _ may be required.

Netscape wrote back to Microsoft, copying in the Justice Department, to accuse Microsoft of antitrust violations for placing limits on the number of Internet connections that can be made to a single copy of the low-end software, the papers reported.

Microsoft sets a limit of 10 simultaneous Internet connections with the Windows NT Workstation, something Netscape contends forces customers to obtain Microsoft’s more costly NT Server.

Netscape and other competitors contend customers can pay less by using their Web server programs with the Windows NT Workstation. Netscape complained the limits hurt its ability to compete.

The exchange of letters was disclosed Tuesday by Gary Reback, a Silicon Valley lawyer who has previously accused Microsoft of anticompetitive practices. He said Microsoft’s licensing restrictions are an unwarranted attempt to undermine Netscape’s pricing advantage.

Microsoft said it has two different products with different designs and that it wants to make Netscape and consumers understand the capabilities of both.

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