Microsoft antitrust trial resumes

After a three month hiatus, the Microsoft trial rumbled back to life on Tuesday as the first government rebuttal witness took the stand and immediately attacked the software giant's own key witness. Franklin Fisher, a professor at MIT, says that fellow professor Richard Schmalensee, a former student, was "muddled and ridiculous" while defending Microsoft earlier in the trial.

Government attorney David Boies presented Fishers with a comment Schmalensee had made about Microsoft's alleged monopoly power.

"The question of whether Microsoft has monopoly power over the operating system is not relevant to the theory of anticompetitive conduct advanced by Professor Fisher," Schmalensee testified.

"It's ridiculous to assume that is not relevant," Fisher retorted. "The case is about Microsoft's action to protect its monopoly."

When asked whether the Netscape/AOL merger offered any sort of new competition to Microsoft, Fisher said it did not. He also stated that Microsoft could bundle Netscape's software with Windows and it still wouldn't matter: The damage to Netscape is irreversible. "I think it's too late \[for Netscape\], and I think Microsoft thinks it's too late. It's enough for Microsoft to obtain a high share of the browser business, and that they've done."

Perhaps most damaging, Fisher asserted that Microsoft's development of Internet Explorer was done specifically to harm Netscape.

"They spent hundreds of millions on development \[on Internet Explorer\], and they gave it away," he said. "Microsoft documents do not say, 'We're doing this to make a lot of money.' These are practices that make no economic sense on their own.

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