MS Remedy Hearings: Java, Netscape Debated

Microsoft's remedial hearings heated up yesterday as Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly warned attorneys for the nine nonsettling states and the District of Columbia that their desire to enter new evidence was "a problem" that she needed to mull over. But later in the day, the judge appeared to reverse course, stating that she didn't "want to be too quick in deleting something" that might be relevant to charges that Microsoft has continued its predatory behavior. Yesterday saw a continuation of Java testimony, followed by Netscape ex-CEO James Barksdale's testimony.

The day began with the conclusion of Sun Microsystems Vice President Richard Green's testimony. Attorneys questioned Green about Microsoft's use of monopolistic power to destroy Java's popularity. Sun sued Microsoft when the software giant altered Java to make it run more efficiently on Windows, a violation of its Java contract with Sun. Sun later won the case; Microsoft settled and agreed to bundle only a Sun-compliant Java version in its Windows products. But in late 2001, Microsoft revealed that it wouldn't include Java in Windows XP, its latest Windows version.

Attorneys for the states argued with Green about whether Microsoft should have included Java in XP, leading Microsoft attorneys to petition the judge that such questioning amounted to new liability charges and was unrelated to the conduct that necessitated the remedial hearings. Kollar-Kotelly seemed to agree with this assessment but didn't throw out Green's testimony related to the XP/Java matter, although she did say she was "disinclined" to accept new evidence at that point.

By the end of the day, Barksdale--who figured prominently in the original Microsoft antitrust trial--took the stand. Before Barksdale appeared, however, Kollar-Kotelly warned that she wasn't interested in his opinions about XP, because the product was released well after his tenure at Netscape, and said his opinion about the product wasn't relevant.

Barksdale's previously submitted written testimony noted that the proposed Department of Justice (DOJ) settlement wouldn't have prevented Microsoft from crushing Netscape if the settlement had been in place 5 years ago. On the stand, the ex-CEO explained that PC makers refuse to support two Windows middleware products that provide the same functionality; in other words, no one is interested in shipping Windows with both Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) and Netscape Navigator, or with Windows Media Player (WMP) and RealNetworks' media player. Furthermore, Barksdale said, removing and testing non-Microsoft middleware products wouldn't be a problem for Microsoft.

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