According to sources close to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the government will soon extend its antitrust investigation of Microsoft Corporation to include the application programs the software giant creates. Currently, the DOJ is investigating Microsoft's bundling of Windows 95 and Internet Explorer, but the ever-widening case will soon encompass the common Microsoft product of bundling applications with Windows until they receive decent marketshare. At that point, the product is unbundled and sold separately.

Currently, the DOJ is asking hardware manufacturers about any other software that Microsoft may require be bundled with Windows. Typically, this would include products like Microsoft Office, Microsoft Publisher, or Microsoft Home Essentials. They are also concerned that Microsoft's programmers get early exposure to new operating system code--called APIs (Application Programming Interfaces)--before third-party programmers do. For example, does a programmer working on Microsoft Word find out about new features before one working on Corel WordPerfect? The DOJ is trying to discover whether this is the case.

At this time, however, the DOJ chooses not to comment on the new charges.

"We're still in the middle of open matters," said a spokesman for the DOJ