What's the best way to get the U.S. government to finally do something about Microsoft? Lie and say they asked you to illegally divide the Web browser market with them. That's the story from Microsoft's camp today as the first week of the company's historic antitrust trial comes to a close.
The issue centers around a key element of the government's case, that at a June 1995 meeting between Netscape and Microsoft, officials from Redmond offered to collude with Netscape and divvy up the market for Web browsers. Microsoft has always said that such a thing never happened. Now they're saying that Netscape invented the story specifically so that the government would be forced to act and sue Microsoft, thus saving their business.
"Isn't it true that the only fair conclusion that can be reached is that \[Netscape's Marc\] Andreessen invented or imagined a proposal to divide markets and that you and your company signed onto that invention or imaginary concoction in order to assist in the prosecution of this case?" Microsoft's lawyer John Warden asked Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale this week in court.
"No, that's absurd," answered an enraged Barksdale.
"What really happened at the \[June 1995\] meeting is \[that\] Netscape was trying to draw a line around its browser market," said Microsoft senior legal counsel William Neukom