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MS could face French liability claim over Win98 Y2K issue

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The French government is considering taking action against Microsoft over the non-Y2K compliance of several products, including Windows 98. Both 98 and Works 4.5 failed compliance tests carried out in January, and according to French small and medium business minister Marylise Lebranchu, possible liability on Microsoft's part is currently being assessed. The tests were carried out by the Directorate for Competition and Prevention of Fraud, and while it's not clear whether or not the Windows 98 tests were carried out on a version that had had the Y2K service pack applied, Lebranchu seems more appalled by Microsoft having shipped non-compliant products in the first place than by whether or not the problems will be fixed. With some justification, she describes it as "extraordinary" that a cutting-edge IT company should be shipping products that won't work after 2000. Microsoft has of course shipped quite a lot of these over the past few years, and quite a few Microsoft products (including Windows 95) will never be brought up to full Y2K compliance. So if the French want to play hardball on product liability, MS is a pretty big target. We shall see... ®

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