Microsoft Remedy Hearings: Hearsay Testimony Thrown Out

In day 3 of the Microsoft antitrust remedial hearings, former Netscape CEO James Barksdale finished his cross-examination, and Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly struck part of David Richards's testimony from the official court record. Richards, vice president for consumer systems at RealNetworks, said that Microsoft had withheld crucial technical information about its Windows OSs, preventing RealNetworks' media-player products from working as well as Microsoft's products. However, the judge ruled inadmissible Richards's story about Microsoft pressuring PC makers such as Compaq and IBM to give RealNetworks less favorable terms.

"\[This testimony is\] classic hearsay," Kollar-Kotelly said after hearing about an email conversation between AOL Time Warner executive Barry Schuler and several RealNetworks executives. "\[Microsoft\] wants to kill you guys so badly it's ugly," Schuler wrote after Microsoft allegedly petitioned AOL to drop RealNetworks' products from its online service. The day that the email exchange took place, AOL and Microsoft's talks about including AOL software in Windows XP broke down.

Richards explained how Microsoft prevented RealNetworks' RealOne Player from duplicating functions of Microsoft's competing product--Windows Media Player (WMP)--which Microsoft offers free as part of Windows. He said that WMP makes it easy to copy songs to a "mix" CD-ROM and search through files for a particular song. But when RealNetworks asked for information about accessing those system functions, Microsoft denied the request.

Earlier in the day, Barksdale presented information about Microsoft's efforts in the late 1990s to cut off Netscape's distribution abilities. Barksdale said that Microsoft uses the same tactics today to prevent rival Instant Messaging (IM) platforms from competing with Windows Messenger. "I remind you \[that\] only 20 years ago, the most sophisticated applications you could get on a PC were little games," Barksdale said, referring to IM's impact.

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