WASHINGTON (CNNfn) - Microsoft Corp. challenged contempt charges today in U.S. District Court. The software giant is accused of failing to abide by a judge's order to stop bundling its Internet browser with its Windows 95 operating system.
Instead of appeasing the court, a heated argument erupted between Microsoft lawyers and the judge. Microsoft's legal team says the company has fully complied with the judge's order that it change its marketing tactics.
But in court the government said the answer to whether Microsoft obeyed the court ruling is a resounding "no."
U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson had told the company it had to sell Windows 95 without an Internet browser. Microsoft responded by offering a version two years old, or a current one that doesn't work.
The government said if Microsoft was confused about the judge's meaning it could have consulted the court.
The software giant insisted the company has done what the judge required. Microsoft lawyers said the government is now trying to change the rules after seeing that what Justice Department lawyers wanted results in useless software.
Several times, Judge Jackson said the Justice Department's words aren't the issue. "It is my language alone that matters," he said.
A government witness said Windows 95 works fine when a simple Windows 95 "delete program" feature is used to cut off access to Microsoft's Internet Explorer.
"What files, give me the names, should Microsoft have deleted to comply?" asked a Microsoft lawyer.
The witness was unable to do so.
Late in the day Microsoft put on its witness who testified, "We designed, developed and tested [the Web browser] as an integral part of Windows 95."
Microsoft wants the judge's expert adviser removed from the case. It says the Harvard cyber-law expert is biased against the company. The judge hasn't said when he'll rule on that motion.