Windows 98 already flying off the shelves
May 25, 1998
Web posted at: 3:45 PM EDT
by Brian McWilliams
-- On Thursday Microsoft filed motions in both the state and federal
antitrust cases asking for a delay of at least seven months.
The company also announced that advance orders for Windows 98 are running
ahead of expectations despite -- or perhaps because of -- the looming
IDG.net confirmed Microsoft's statement with Channel Marketing, a research
firm that tracks computer software sales through retail, mail order,
and direct sales. While businesses are unlikely to rush to upgrade to
Windows 98, Channel Marketing president David Goldstein says there's
a strong pent-up demand from home and small-office users.
According to Goldstein, "We're forecasting there will be more [copies
of] Windows 98 sold in the first six months than there was in the first
six months of the launch of Windows 95. When we look at the penetration
of [PCs in] small businesses and home consumers, it's ... going to surprise
a lot of people."
Disputing that prediction is Kim Brown, of market research firm Dataquest.
He says Windows 98 upgrades will come nowhere near the numbers garnered
by Windows 95. He adds that interest in Windows 98 is limited largely
to computer hobbyists. Still, Brown concedes that a lot of Windows 98
upgrades will be loaded onto new computers--up to 30 million copies
Even if Microsoft's motion for a delay is denied, the rapid adoption
of Windows 98 could make it difficult for the courts to order the company
to pull it off the market and make changes requested by the Department
Brown of Dataquest points out that the Windows 98 final code was shipped
to major manufacturers on May 18 and is already being loaded on new
computers. As far as he's concerned, the horse is already out of the
"It's not Microsoft any more. [Microsoft] already shipped it to Compaq
and Dell and everyone else," says Brown. "[The OEMs] are already going
through their qualification processes, building it into their information
systems [for] manufacturing. 98 is baked."
Goldstein of Channel Marketing also doubts that the judge would order
a halt to Windows 98 at this stage. And he wonders what the Justice
Department was thinking by asking the court to order changes to the
Says Goldstein: "The Justice Department represents the people of the
United States of America, and I'd like to know how the people of the
United States of America are going to be damaged by this. The government
has done a very poor job of explaining that to the individual citizen
of this country. I don't understand why they're about to embark on a
billion-dollar-over-X-years [trial] of my tax dollars to prevent me
from getting a product that, by the time they resolve this, won't even
Gary Reback of Silicon Valley law firm Wilson, Sonsini, agrees that
the Justice Department has done a terrible job of presenting its case
to the public. But he says anyone who takes a minute to read the government's
complaint will be alarmed at the picture painted by Microsoft's internal
"I represent a lot of businesses," Reback says. "They don't behave
[the way that] these documents seem to reflect [how Microsoft behaves].
The single greatest value ... in the government filing [the suit] is
so people can see what Microsoft is all about.
He adds, "If businesses were informed fully of how Microsoft does business,
there would be a lot fewer businesses willing to deal with [Microsoft].
And that might be a far more effective remedy long term than anything
the government can provide."
Microsoft spokesperson Mark Murray, however, says the government pulled
quotes out of context to support its "conspiracy theory."
"What the government did was basically trial by snippet in the court
of public opinion," says Murray. "They had 1 million pages of our documents,
and they pulled out little five- and ten-word snippets to try to poison
the public environment against Microsoft."