Microsoft: Apple was the bully

I try to be objective, but you have to be particularly clueless to buy into this theory: According to Microsoft, it was Apple that bullied it, not vice versa, using a $1.2 billion patent infringement lawsuit as a bargaining chip. Conventional wisdom suggests that Microsoft held the threat of dropping support for the Macintosh--specifically, the must-have Office suite--over Apple's head in an attempt to get the company to bundle its Internet Explorer browser with the Mac OS. But today in court, Microsoft attorney Theodore Edelman launched the most bizarre of defenses: That weak, dying Apple somehow was able to threaten Microsoft, the most powerful company on the planet.

According to Edelman, bargaining between the two companies over the patent dispute resulted in Microsoft investing $150 million in Apple and pledging to support the MacOS for five more years. It also got IE into the MacOS as the default browser. Needless to say, that's not Apple's story. Avie Tevanian, Apple's head software VP, says that Microsoft threatened to stop building Office for the Mac unless Apple agreed to drop the suit and bundle IE with the MacOS. Tevanian alleges that Microsoft sabotaged Apple's QuickTime media player by "creating misleading error messages and introducing technical bypasses that deprived QuickTime of the opportunity to process certain types of multimedia files."

Just another day at the circus that is the Microsoft trial.

"Dr. Tevanian, don't you think the use of the word 'sabotage' is something of an exaggeration?" Edelman asked Tevanian, who was being cross-examined in court today.

"It sounds fine to me," said Tevanian.

"Isn't it a fact, Dr. Tevanian, that you have no personal knowledge or basis to assert that a any of the incompatibilities were created to do anything to harm QuickTime?" asked Edelman.

"I don't agree," Tevanian said. "What other goal could there have been \[for the error messages\]?"

Tevanian explained that the situation was obvious. Like Jim Barksdale before him, Tevanian came under sharp attack from the Microsoft lawyers, who tried to find inaccuracies in his testimony.

"You assert Microsoft has a monopoly, but not as one would use that word for antitrust, isn't that right?" Edelman asked, in an apparent bid to prove that Tevanian was using antitrust terms he wasn't familiar with.

"In this case it seems so obvious they have a monopoly," he replied, though he admitted to being no expert in antitrust law.

Microsoft's attempts to belittle Tevanian seem strange. The man is generally considered a genius and was offered millions of dollars years ago to join Microsoft. He chose to work with Steve Jobs at NeXT instead, almost single-handedly developing NeXTStep, the basis for Apple's next-generation Mac OS X operating system

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