Windows 98 will be released to consumers unchanged and on schedule next month, and a trial will then be held in September to determine whether Microsoft is illegally exploiting the product to expand its monopoly.

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, who is presiding over the lawsuits filed this week against Microsoft by federal and state governments, said he is not persuaded that he needs to act before June 25, which is the official release date for Windows 98.But Jackson also rejected Microsoft's request that no hearings be held for the next seven months, instead saying he plans to hold a full-blown trial starting Sept. 8.

Jackson, who presided over another Microsoft court case last winter, used a hearing Friday to quickly assert his control over the complicated and important case. He said he expects to consolidate the state and federal cases, and that he also expects to consider the governments' requests for temporary changes to Windows 98 and for permanent changes to the company's practices during the same September proceeding.