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Software Rivals See Microsoft’s ‘Abuse Of Power’ Hurting Every Industry

On the eve of a Congressional hearing into the controversial business practices of Microsoft Corp., two rivals on Monday called the software giant a monopoly that threatens competition in the next century.

Michael Morris, a vice president at Sun Microsystems of Mountain View, Calif., said Microsoft has used the dominance of its Windows operating system - 95 percent of new computers are installed with the program - to stifle competition in the software industry.

“In the very near future, almost all commerce and communications will be done through software,” Morris told reporters here. “So if this abuse of power does not end now, it could hurt every industry.”

Roberta Katz, senior vice president of Netscape Communications Corp. of Palo Alto, Calif., which has been battling Microsoft in the Internet browser market, said the Redmond, Wash., company is attempting to gain control of the Internet software industry by forcing consumers to use its own browser, Internet Explorer.

A browser is software that allows users to access information on the Internet’s World Wide Web.

“The Internet is the wave of the future, and Microsoft wants to control it in the way Windows dominates computer operating systems today,” she said. “I think software will be as important to the 21st century as oil was to the 20th century.”

Currently, Microsoft is under separate investigation by antitrust officials of the Department of Justice and the European Union. They are examining a wide range of its business practices.