A top Microsoft official this week acknowledged that the software company pressed chip giant Intel to pull an Internet multimedia software product off the market in 1995 and to later back away from embracing Java cross-platform technology.
But the official, Microsoft vice president of platforms and applications Paul Maritz, denied that the pressure on Intel was designed specifically to quash potential competition from the chip company.
US Department of Justice lawyers allege that Microsoft's dealings with a variety of competitors -- the most dramatic testimony to date has been about Microsoft's dealings over browser technologies with Netscape Communications -- show a pattern of behaviour in which Microsoft attempts to convince rivals to back out of competition in exchange for promised favours.
Maritz testified that Microsoft opposed the Intel software, called Native Signal Processing (NSP), because it was developed to work with an out-dated version of Microsoft's Windows operating system software, Windows 3.1. At the time Intel was seeking to market NSP, Microsoft was poised to release its next-generation operating system, Windows 95.
"The issue here is that Intel would have made it difficult for the industry to migrate from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95 for a variety of reasons," Maritz testified, during his third day on the witness stand in Microsoft's antitrust trial, now in its 13th week.
Maritz's testimony was undercut by a series of internal Microsoft memos and e-mail written about the negotiations, in which top executives referred to support Microsoft later gave to Intel products, and which Government attorney David Boies suggested was in exchange for Microsoft's support of the then-new Intel microprocessor, the MMX.