Microsoft Remedy Hearings: Lawyers Spars with Novell Exec

A Microsoft lawyer tried to demonstrate that the Novell executive he was cross-examining this week in court colluded with the state of Utah to see that Microsoft was punished so severely for its antitrust violations that Novell's products would be bundled with Windows.  The lawyer also released a series of emails between the witness, Novell CTO Carl Ledbetter, and the company's chief executive, Jack Messman, in which the two discussed how Novell could get its eDirectory software installed as a "Trojan Horse" in Windows.

"We need to infiltrate the Microsoft strategy," Messman wrote in one message dated December 2001. "After we get in \[Windows\], we can then proliferate." According to the emails, Novell had attempted to persuade Microsoft to bundle eDirectory with Windows and let users choose between that product and Microsoft's competitor, Active Directory, which comes free with Windows. "If what we're doing in the states' antitrust case creates a crack in \[Microsoft's\] resistance, we may have a way to renew the offer," Ledbetter responded. At the time, Ledbetter was in Washington D.C., meeting with lawyers for the nine non-settling states in the Microsoft antitrust case.

Microsoft also released an April 2000 email from a Utah state lawyer to Novell executives, in which the lawyer asked for help drafting legal language for a Microsoft antitrust filing aimed at helping Novell. The email was written when Microsoft and the Department of Justice (DOJ) were tussling over settlement talks, which eventually failed, and regarded a middleware term definition that would likely cover Novell products too. The home of Novell, Utah is also one of the states seeking harsher remedies against Microsoft.

Under cross-examination, Ledbetter discussed the controversial modular Windows issue, a scheme by the nine non-settling states to require Microsoft to create a single Windows version that will let users uninstall so-called middleware components such as Windows Media Player, Internet Explorer, and Windows Messenger. Microsoft says that such a plan is untenable, because it will in effect create thousands of possible software combinations and be impossible to support. But Ledbetter says that Novell's flagship Netware product has far more interlocking components, creating "over ten quadrillion possible combinations." And Novell, Ledbetter said, has no problem supporting that product.

TAGS: Windows 8
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