Antitrust trial: DOJ accuses MS of bribing Intuit

The U.S. government accused Microsoft Corporation of bribing Intuit, makers of the popular Quicken personal finance software, to include Internet Explorer with its product. And on the stand today in the Microsoft antitrust trial, Microsoft executive William Poole actually confirmed that the company traded an exclusive IE contract with Intuit (thus shutting out Netscape) for a spot on the Windows desktop. Poole was responsible for signing up companies for the Windows 98 Active Channel Bar, a floating window that appears on the Windows desktop when users first start the computer.

"I think it is, in economic terms, a bribe," said DOJ attorney David Boies. "In other terms, it is an inducement."

Boies displayed a 1996 email from Microsoft CEO Bill Gates to Intuit chairman Scott Cook.

"I was quite frank with him, that if he had a favor we could do for him that would cost us something like $1 million to do that in return for switching browsers in the next few months I would be open to doing that," Gates wrote to Cook.

Microsoft spokesperson Mark Murray tried to downplay the email later.

"They had put some costs into product development," Murray said. "Gates wanted to\] compensate Intuit for those costs.

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