States put Nokia, SBC on the stand

States put Nokia, SBC on the stand

A list of preliminary witnesses that nine states and the District of Columbia plan to call to the stand in their continuing antitrust battle against Microsoft includes executives from two major telecommunication companies, a representative for the suing states confirmed Friday.

Representatives from SBC Communications and Nokia were added to a list of companies set to testify that includes Oracle and Sun Microsystems, said Bob Brammer, a spokesman for Iowa State Attorney General Tom Miller, who remains a leading opponent.

"They're on our witness list," he said.

Nokia's vice president of government and industry affairs, William B. Plummer, is scheduled to testify, as is SBC's Larry Pearson, a product design manager. Nokia is the world's No. 1 maker of mobile phones. SBC is one of the largest local phone carriers in the US.

Those named on the witness list also include Peter Ashkin, president of product strategy at America Online, Richard Green, vice president and general manager of Sun's Java group, Jim Barksdale, former head of Netscape and Matthew Szulik, chief executive officer at Red Hat.

US District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who is heading up the remedy phase of the case, has scheduled hearings to decide what remedy to impose on the software maker. The judge could force the nine states and the District of Columbia to sign on to a settlement deal forged between Microsoft, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and nine state attorneys general, or create a separate remedy based on testimony gathered from public comments and these hearings.

The nine hold-out states -- California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Florida, Kansas, Minnesota, West Virginia, and Utah, as well as the District of Columbia -- are set to head back to the courtroom in March.

Microsoft was unavailable for comment.

Last week, the suing states filed a proposed remedy with the court, which included restrictions against the software maker that go far beyond what Microsoft agreed to in the federal settlement proposal.

The states have asked the judge to force Microsoft to make its Windows operating system code available to third-party software makers, make its Internet Explorer Web browser an open source software product, and "auction off" its Office software to third party software makers to be developed for competing platforms such as Linux.

It would also require Microsoft to ship a version of its Windows operating system stripped of any applications or code tied to those applications, such as its media player and instant messaging software.

Wednesday, Microsoft fired back at the state's remedy proposal, calling it unworkable and punitive, and submitted its own proposal, which closely mirrored the settlement agreement with the DOJ and nine states. In that agreement Microsoft would have to loosen up its licensing deals with PC makers and agree not to retaliate against any of those manufacturers if they ship Windows PCs with rival software.

The states also said Friday that they have the opportunity to amend and add to the witness list until February 8, when a final version must be filed with the court.

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