ONE EXECUTIVE WITH A KEEN eye on Microsoft is James Firestone, named by IBM on Aug. 7 to head its new consumer division. The unit is being created to develop a strategic focus for the company's consumer products, including its Aptiva home PCs. One of the first items on Firestone's agenda: securing a supply of Win95 software for his fall PC lineup. As the launch date draws near, IBM remains the only major PC maker that has not inked a contract with Microsoft for the right to put the program in its machines. IBM says it is close to a deal.

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