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MS/DOJ: Microsoft rests disastrous defence

MS/DOJ: Microsoft rests disastrous defence

Microsoft spent this week fending off attacks from both its software competitors and the U.S. federal judge as it wrapped up its defence in the Department of Justice's antitrust case.

In court, Joachim Kempin, a senior vice president at Microsoft and the head of its dealings with OEMs, either denied knowledge of or expressed disbelief concerning the government's allegations that Microsoft pressured and threatened OEM partner Gateway.

In this antitrust case, the U.S. government has been trying to show, in part, that Microsoft used its monopoly over desktop operating systems to pressure PC-makers to use its Internet Explorer browser instead of Netscape's Navigator browser.

According to a memo written by a Gateway employee, Microsoft did not want the PC vendor to use Netscape on its corporate Intranet. Gateway employee Kathy Skidmore wrote that a Microsoft representative said, "[Microsoft] wants to get back to doing co-marketing and sales campaigns with [Gateway], but they won't if they see [Gateway] is anything but pro-Microsoft."

"I personally don't believe it," Kempin said. "It's her summary of a conversation."

Kempin also disputed other Gateway statements, asserting that Microsoft told Gateway it would compensate the company for its Netscape investment if it would switch to Explorer.

Obviously tiring of Kempin's "I don't know" answers, District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson expressed dismay that Kempin would not know what his subordinates were telling Gateway.

Another Microsoft witness, Eric Engstrom, vehemently denied allegations that Microsoft sabotaged Apple's QuickTime multimedia player to prevent the product from working on the Windows operating system. Engstrom, who heads multimedia efforts at Microsoft, called the charge "completely unfounded," and said Apple failed to give Microsoft information to fix the problem.

Similarly, Bob Muglia, senior vice president of Microsoft's applications and tools group and the last witness in the software giant's defence case, refuted allegations that Microsoft's "innovations and improvements" to Java technology were anti-competitive.

Meanwhile, Microsoft lawyers issued subpoenas to America Online, Netscape, and Sun, seeking documents related to the three-way deal announced last fall. Microsoft has played up the pending merger as proof that it cannot monopolise the software industry.

The trial will now go into a six-week recess, and rebuttal witnesses will be called for as early as April 12


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