Trial of the century of the week continues

Microsoft's antitrust trial continued this week with some more snippets from the Bill Gates testimony video and a government witness that testified that customers don't want a browser integrated into Windows. The Gates testimony, which once again showed the world's richest man forgetting key moments in his company's history as he argued over the meaning of simple and common words.

On Monday, the portion of the videotaped testimony dealing with the importance of Web browser marketshare was shown. When asked if making Internet Explorer's marketshare greater was a "top priority," Gates said he had no idea.

"Did you ever tell Mr. Maritz that browser share was not the company's number one goal?" DOJ attorney David Boies asked.

Gates waited nearly a full minute before answering, "No."

Over the course of the testimony Gates also questioned the meaning of common words such as "we" and "concerned." Consider the following exchange, which relates to a 1996 email message sent from Gates to Microsoft VP Paul Maritz, where he wrote that "winning Internet browser share is a very very important goal for \[the company\]."

Boies: "Now, when you were referring there to Internet browser share, what were the companies who were included in that?"

Gates: "There's no companies included in that."

Boies: "Well, if you're winning browser market share, that must mean that some other company is producing browsers and you're comparing your share of browsers, is that not so, sir?"

Gates: "You asked me if there are any companies included in that then and now...I'm very confused about what you're asking."

Boies: "All right sir. Let me see if I can try to clarify. You say here, 'Winning browser share is a very very important goal for us.' What companies were supplying browsers whose share you were talking about?"

Gates: "It doesn't appear I'm talking about any other companies in that sentence."

On Tuesday, depositions from PC hardware makers and Boeing were shown to demonstrate that corporations are not happy about the integration of Windows with Internet Explorer. Boeing executive Scott Vesey testified that the browser should be handled like any other application and that they, not Microsoft, should be able to determine which apps to use.

"We do not have a choice," he said, noting that Office 2000 and IE 5.0 would be the final nail in the coffin for Netscape because of their tight integration.

Taped depositions of PC hardware maker executives, such as Gateway's James Von Holle and Packard Bell/NEC's Jon Kies show that these companies practically begged Microsoft not to integrate IE with Windows.

"We want flexibility on anything associated with the Internet. We want Microsoft to provide us with technology and not make decisions or choices for us or our customers," Von Holle wrote to Microsoft in a 1997 email.

Finally, on Wednesday, IBM executive John Soyring discussed the infamous early 1990's battle between OS/2 and Windows. Soyring said that Microsoft's win over OS/2 was due to a vicious cycle that "stacks the deck in Microsoft's favor," where Windows was cheaper, so more developers were able to get into the market. As more developers got involved, more apps were developed, and more people started using Windows. The cycle just continued over and over, shutting OS/2 out of the market. Microsoft says that IBM mishandled OS/2, adding that the company's decision to build Windows compatibility into OS/2 2.0 caused developers to skip over native OS/2 development, thus adding to Windows' lead.

But the tables were really turned when Microsoft attorney Steve Holley introduced an email from IBM VP John Thompson to Sun's Scott McNealy, in which he suggested that the two companies work with Netscape, Oracle, and Novell to "minimize the performance gap" between the performance of Java running on Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator.

"Do you think it is appropriate, Mr. Soyring, for six of the largest software companies in the world to agree with each other to collude with one another against Microsoft?" Holley asked.

Soyring didn't actually answer the question because the judge sustained an objection from government attorney Stephen Houck

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