In another deft legal maneuver, Microsoft announced late last week that the company won't call CEO Steve Ballmer to the stand in its antitrust remedy hearings, again denying lawyers for the nonsettling states a chance to introduce potentially incriminating email evidence. That move brings the remaining number of Microsoft witnesses to just four and dramatically shortens the hearings, which were expected to continue into late May. Now the hearings could end as early as this week.
"We believe the remaining issues we need to address in our case will be covered by these \[four remaining\] witnesses," Microsoft said in a statement issued late Friday. The move leaves four remaining witnesses: Microsoft executives Jim Allchin and Linda Averett, computer science professor John Bennett, and economics professor Kenneth Elzinga.
Legal experts agree that Microsoft's continual trimming of its witness list indicates that the company is confident the judge won't approve sanctions that go beyond the company's settlement with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and nine other US states. The nine nonsettling states refused to sign that settlement and sought harsher remedies; these hearings will determine the outcome of that quest.