Judge: AOL/Netscape deal changes everything

Maybe I was wrong about this guy: Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, who is presiding over the Microsoft antitrust trial, said in court Wednesday that AOL's impending purchase of Netscape Communications may very well prove that competition is alive and well in the computer industry. It was a major coup for Microsoft, coming as it did from someone who has never shown any particular liking for the company.

“We are all aware that there has been what might be a very significant change in the playing field as far as the industry is concerned,” Jackson said of the AOL purchase of Netscape. “It could have an immediate impact on the definition of the market."

The comments came as part of a response to Microsoft's lawyers, who asked the judge for the chance to view documents concerning the buyout. Microsoft is attempting to determine whether executives from AOL and/or Netscape were aware of the deal during the time they testified against Microsoft. The judge ruled that Microsoft could view the documents.

Representatives of both Microsoft and the government did everything they could to downplay the comments.

“It’s a mistake for counsel of either side, or the press, to draw conclusions from any comment the judge makes,except for the matter at hand,” said Microsoft attorney John Warden.

Court closed today for the Christmas holiday, a day earlier than expected. The trial will resume January 4th

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