The charges lodged recently by Intel vice president Steven McGeady at the Microsoft antitrust trial were, in many respects, similar to those of earlier witnesses. But there was one big difference.
Chip maker Intel is known as the other half of the so-called Wintel alliance with Microsoft. The software and hardware products made by the two vendors run on roughly 90 per cent of all desktops. That partnership produced a level of candour among Wintel executives not evident in earlier testimony from Netscape or Apple. And that has helped the Government with a key part of its legal strategy - to attack the credibility of Microsoft chairman and CEO Bill Gates.
In a high-level private meeting between Intel and Microsoft officials in July 1995, McGeady took 15 pages of notes, titled "Gates Unplugged", that the Government introduced into evidence. He quoted Gates as saying "This antitrust thing will blow over", and "We haven't changed our business practices at all". The remarks were made one year after Microsoft and the US Department of Justice signed a consent decree that required Microsoft to stop charging equipment makers a blanket royalty on all PCs sold, even if the machines weren't bundled with Windows.
Gates' reaction shouldn't be surprising, said Rob Enderle, an analyst at Giga Information Group. Imagine Intel chairman and CEO Andy Grove's reaction if Microsoft had launched a microprocessor design unit: he "would have probably been in Bill's face within 24 minutes", Enderle said.