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Gassee Departs from Be Inc.

The dissolution of Net appliance vendor Be Inc. continued with the announcement Wednesday that high-profile CEO Jean-Louis Gassee had departed from the company and that it was considering an antitrust-related suit against Microsoft.

Palm Inc. acquired the intellectual property of Be last year for $11 million and said it would also hire on some of Be's engineers. Be then began the process of dissolving itself, a process that was ratified by its shareholders in November.

"This is the normal progression of events in a company that is winding down and dissolving," said Gassee, a former high-level Apple executive.

Dan Johnston, Be's General Counsel, was appointed to serve as president as the dissolution process continues, the company said in a statement. A public liquidation auction of the company's assets is scheduled for January 16.

Gassee also indicated in a statement that the company was considering the ramifications of an antitrust suit against Microsoft, but provided no specific details.

"Mr. Johnston is best positioned to guide the company through the intricacies of the statutory dissolution process, and to help the board determine whether an antitrust suit against Microsoft is both viable and serves to maximize stockholder value."

Be was one of several vendors of software for home-based Net appliance vendors that failed in the last year. Net appliances were envisioned as inexpensive, easy Net access tools for home users, but they failed to capture the public's imagination.