Microsoft's antitrust hearings kicked off yesterday with testimony from an SBC Communications engineer who said that the remedy proposal from the nine nonsettling states and District of Columbia would protect emerging Internet communications products from Microsoft. Software engineer Larry Pearson testified that the proposed remedy the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and nine other US states offered is ineffectual and doesn't require Microsoft to disclose information that's required for interoperability with its products. Microsoft, as usual, downplayed the accusations by alleging that SBC is asking for tougher sanctions only because a proposed deal between Microsoft and SBC fell through.
Pearson said that the deal--which involved Internet-connected telephone messaging--fell through because Microsoft required SBC to use Microsoft's proprietary technologies. This requirement would have made it difficult for SBC's products to interoperate with non-Microsoft devices, such as incompatible cell phones and Palm OS devices. "Microsoft can effectively prevent \[SBC's upcoming\] services from becoming commercially viable" by locking them out of Windows, Pearson said. "If Microsoft did these things, we wouldn't have a product."
Microsoft attorney Dan Webb showed the court SBC email messages proving that SBC executives lobbied state attorneys general to reject the DOJ settlement after the company discovered loopholes that would let Microsoft continue its anticompetitive behavior. Webb said that this activity began right after talks between the two companies broke down. Pearson said the two events were unrelated.