Business Briefs

Microsoft rivals must file single brief

WASHINGTON--Four pro-Microsoft groups can jointly file two legal briefs in support of the company, while Microsoft's opponents--most of them market competitors--can file one brief, an appeals court decided yesterday.

In the case of the software giant's breakup, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia decided that a total of 11 parties can file six briefs either in support of Microsoft or the government.

A Nov. 27 deadline was set for the first two briefs from the parties who hope the court will overturn the June decision ordering Microsoft's breakup.

Microsoft's opponents, including America Online, have until Jan. 12 to file a single brief.

The decision represents a small victory for Microsoft, which has argued that its competitors should only be able to file the single brief between them.

Windows 2000 stirs trouble in Germany

BERLIN--Microsoft has developed complex instructions to remove part of Windows 2000 that had generated bad publicity in Germany because it was written by a firm headed by a Scientologist, a spokesman said yesterday.

"The problem exists only because people and the media in Germany became aware that the author of the tool is an American company called Executive Software Inc., whose CEO is a member of the Scientology Church," said Thomas Baumgaertner, a Microsoft spokesman in Germany.

The tool in question was the disk defragmenter, a maintenance feature within Microsoft's Windows operating system software that helps hard disks run more efficiently. Until now, without the specific and complex instructions, it had been all but impossible to uninstall the feature.

Germany does not recognize Scientology as a religion and has taken a tough stance against the group, describing it as an unwelcome cult.

A spokesman for Executive Software at its European offices in Britain said Chairman Craig Jensen, who lives in California, is a believer in Scientology.

Boeing loses half its $42 million bonus

WASHINGTON--Boeing was docked $21 million in potential bonuses this summer by the Defense Department because of flawed management and cost overruns on the new U.S. missile defense program, according to figures provided a congressional subcommittee.

Boeing lost half of its potential $42 million bonus for the six-month cycle ending April 30. In the three previous bonus cycles, Boeing earned as much as 80 percent, and never below 70 percent, Pentagon officials said.

Boeing in August said it was being docked half its potential bonus but wouldn't disclose the amount. It was provided this week to the Democratic staff of the House Government Reform national-security subcommittee.

The Pentagon estimates the program to be at least 14 percent over its target cost of $2.17 billion. Army Maj. Gen. Willie Nance, the Pentagon overall supervisor of the national missile-defense program, said the Pentagon and Boeing are taking action to improve cost controls.

Wright Runstad wins award for Amazon HQ

SEATTLE--Wright Runstad announced it has received a 2000 Award for Excellence from the Urban Land Institute for renovating the original Marine Hospital on Beacon Hill into the new Amazon.com headquarters. It's the third Seattle building to win since the awards began in 1979.

"The Amazon.com building is exactly what the Urban Land Institute stands for," said Doug Norberg, vice chairman for Wright Runstad. "We have to find ways to reuse our nation's historic buildings."

Charter may sell $1.2 billion in bonds

ST. LOUIS--Charter Communications, the cable-television company controlled by billionaire Paul Allen, may sell $1.2 billion in bonds later this year or next to finance network upgrades, its chief financial officer said.

The No. 4 U.S. cable provider needs $1.75 billion to finish upgrades, said CFO Kent Kalkwarf. Charter may use a combination of bonds and bank loans to pay for it, though he said the entire $1.75 billion could be raised by issuing bonds.

-- Seattle Times staff and news services