Antitrust trial this week: Intel exec testifies

The Microsoft trial plodded along without me earlier this week as Microsoft CEO Bill Gates took the virtual stand Monday morning, when highlights from his videotaped testimony were shown in court. The snippets were a prelude to Intel exec Steven McGeady, who took the stand for the DOJ. McGeady says that Microsoft forced Intel out of the multimedia software market while Gates said in his testimony that "Intel was wasting its money writing low-quality software that created a negative experience for users."

In other words, it's another week of "he said/she said."

McGeady, who led Intel's software development efforts, says Microsoft did everything it could to stop the company from releasing its software, up to and including threatening to not support Intel's MMX capabilities. Intel was using MMX as a major selling point of its processors at the time. Microsoft, however, says that McGeady has "an axe to grind" since it was his pet project that was ultimately cancelled.

"It was clear to us that if \[the new MMX\] chip did not run Windows, it would be useless in the marketplace," McGeady said, noting that Microsoft said it would turn to Intel competitors AMD and Cyrix instead. "The threat was both credible and terrifying."

Gates admitted that he suggested Intel drop out of the software market, but that it was because Intel's software was behind the times. The were preparing to release their software only for Windows 3.1, right before the launch of Windows 95.

"When we saw Intel doing the low-quality work that was creating incompatibilities in Windows that served absolutely no Intel goal, we suggested to Intel that that should change," Gates said. "And it became frustrating to us because it was a long period of time where they kept doing work that we thought was actually negative."

On Tuesday, more of Gates' deposition was shown, and the government presented evidence showing that Microsoft had been watching McGeady for some time.

"Steve McGeady remains an issue for us. He is a champion of Java, and a believer that the day of bloatware is over," wrote Microsoft VP Paul Maritz in an email to Gates. "He has more IQ than most \[people at Intel\].

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