The attorney generals of eleven states have subpoenaed Microsoft Corporation about its plans for Windows 98. The states want to know whether integrating Internet Explorer 4.0 into Windows 98 is a violation of anti-trust laws. Interestingly, Microsoft has said all along that its legal troubles would not impact the release of Windows 98; this could change that. The states--which include California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, South Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin--have requested the same documents used by the U.S. Department of Justice in its probe of the software giant.

New York state Attorney General Dennis Vacco says the states are trying to determine "whether Microsoft is improperly using its dominant market position in Windows operating systems software to force consumers also to use its Internet browser product."

Microsoft spokesperson Mike Murray stresses that no state has yet filed a lawsuit against the company "and they may never file one," he said. "We are looking forward to working with the states in the coming months and are sure that once they have had time to review all of the information, they will see that Microsoft is operating well within the limits of the law."

The DOJ has not ruled out a fight over Windows 98 as well. Currently, it is in court fighting Microsoft over the bundling of IE with Windows 95.

In response to the mounting legal threats, Microsoft CEO and chairman Bill Gates wrote a letter Monday to shareholders and employees stating that hard work and innovation are the reasons behind his company's success, and not monopolistic practices.

"Part of our competitors and detractors efforts revolve around getting the government involved in limiting Microsoft's ability to compete," Gates wrote in the letter. "My goal has always been to create software that improves the quality of people's lives, so it's disappointing for me to see the government now trying to put controls on an American success story."

You can read the whole letter on the Microsoft Web site