Microsoft asks judge to order researchers to turn over info

Thursday night, Microsoft Corporation asked a federal judge to order the authors of an upcoming book on Netscape Communications to turn over their research documents. Microsoft had requested the documents earlier but was rebuffed by the authors, who are professors at schools in the Boston area. The authors contend that the research for the book--which will be in stores within a week--contains information that could harm Netscape if it fell into the hands of its competitors. Microsoft, however, says it is willing to work around that. The company would like to use these documents to bolster its defense in the antitrust case against it; apparently, the research suggests that Netscape's problems were largely its own fault and had nothing to do with Microsoft.

"In interviews with \[the researchers\], various Netscape officers and employees frankly conceded that many of Netscape's problems were of its own creation," said a Microsoft attorney. "Their account directly contradicts the government's case against Microsoft."

One point, in particular, is interesting given the recent surge of Internet Explorer over Netscape Navigator: IE was able to beat Netscape's market share because it is bundled with America Online (AOL), the largest online service by far.

"Netscape's former vice president in charge of sales to computer manufacturers told the authors that Netscape's loss of the AOL business to Microsoft was Netscape's own fault," said the attorney.

The researchers apparently interviewed many current and previous Netscape officials while preparing the book, which is titled "Competing on Internet Time: Lessons from Netscape and its Battle with Microsoft.

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