Microsoft's Cole raked over court coals

If it wasn't clear on day one of its court date over Internet Explorer bundling about which side the judge was on, it became painfully clear on day two. Microsoft's David Cole was repeatedly rebuked by Judge Jackson, leading to embarrassing comments from the software giant's technical witness.

Judge Jackson quickly grew irritated with Cole's attempts to stick to the letter of the December injunction against Microsoft.

"It seemed absolutely clear to you that I entered an order that required that you distribute a product that would not work...That's what you're telling me?" he demanded.

"In plain English, yes. I followed an order. It wasn't my place to consider the consequences of it," he said.

Cole's response didn't amuse the judge.

As this bizarre exchange occurred, Phillip Malone, an attorney for the Department of Justice produced a letter from Microsoft to OEMs describing how to remove Internet Explorer from Windows. In the letter, Microsoft says that numerous key files must be deleted. When the process is complete, the operating system is useless. Malone asked Cole why Microsoft told OEMs to delete files that were crucial to the operation of Windows 95.

"I looked for files distributed at retail as Microsoft Internet Explorer, as ordered by the court," he answered.

"So, you relied on the language of the order?" Malone asked.

"Yes," said Cole.

Cole also provided a demonstration showing that using the Add/Remove Programs utility in Windows 95 to remove IE didn't really get rid of the browser, it just removed the desktop icon and links to the program. He said that using the Add/Remove Programs utility did not comply with the judge's order.

"When you click on Internet Explorer in the add/remove utility, the dialog box says this will remove Internet Explorer. What do you think the user is thinking?" asked Malone.

"Can't speculate," said Cole to muffled laughs.

"Microsoft is telling the user that the Add/Remove utility will remove Internet Explorer, right?" asked Malone.

"We used a very generic term to describe the process," answered Cole.

The DOJ's Malone also pressed Cole on the issue of performance degradation. According to Microsoft, removing IE from Windows 95 causes the operating system to run slower.

"You said using the Add/Remove utility will degrade the operating system. If an end user removes IE using the Add/Remove utility, the utility does not provide any warning that removing IE will degrade performance." Malone asked.

"That is correct," Cole answered.

Microsoft's day in court ended when the judge directed both parties to prepare 10-page summaries of facts and findings before giving their final statements. The summaries are due in court by January 19th, while final statements are scheduled for January 22nd. After the final statements, Judge Jackson will decide whether Microsoft is in violation of his court order

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