Bill Gates was deposed on Thursday and Friday in the antitrust case brought against Microsoft by the Department of Justice and 20 state attorneys general.
The Microsoft CEO?s testimony was characterised as ?evasive? in some reports.
But on at least one count, he appears to have been unequivocal. According to the 'Seattle Times', Gates testified that he knew of no Microsoft proposal to divide up the Internet market between itself and Netscape. Gates reportedly said he first learnt of the alleged collusion attempt from a news story in the 'Wall Street Journal'.
A key accusation in the Department of Justice?s antitrust case against Microsoft is that, in two meetings in May 1995, Microsoft attempted to pressure Netscape into a deal where Microsoft would market a Web browser for Windows only, and Netscape would be left all other operating systems.
According to the DoJ?s account, Netscape refused the offer, after which Microsoft set out to destroy its rival by giving away its Internet Explorer browser for free.
The 'Seattle Times' said Gates was also questioned about another alleged attempt at market division, concerning Apple and the media streaming market. He was also asked about predatory pricing and about the practice of bundling of new software products with the Windows operating system.
Fourteen other Microsoft employees, including president Steve Ballmer, have been called to testify, in preparation of the antitrust trial that is set to start on 23 September.
The depositions are being videotaped, and may soon be released to the public. The judge has decided that the media will have access to the depositions, but Microsoft won a temporary stay of that decision.
There has been a series of additional revelations concerning Microsoft?s business practices these past few days. The 'New York Times' reported that Microsoft had pressured Intel to drop certain software projects. And journalist Wendy Goldman Rohm revealed that some Microsoft executives had discussed ? but not executed ? a plan to hide a deliberate bug in Windows 3.1. The bug would crash Windows if it ran on top of DR-Dos, rather than Microsoft?s own MS-Dos.
This revelation was lifted from Goldman Rohm?s forthcoming book 'The Microsoft file: the secret case against Bill Gates'.
The book, which is to reach US stores on 8 September, reportedly has other revelations in wait. The book apparently insinuates that Microsoft bugged former IBM executive James Cannavino?s bedroom at the Comdex/Fall show in 1989. Rohm also recounts Microsoft?s dealing with operating system vendor Go. Rohm claims that Microsoft abused non-disclosure information about Go?s pen based operating system PenPoint to develop its own pen technology.
But the news wasn?t all bad for Microsoft this past week. On Friday, Senator Slade Gorton, a Republican who represents Microsoft?s home state of Washington, spoke at 'The code warriors vs the trustbusters', a pro-Microsoft rally in Seattle.
?It?s been a particularly cold shower for Microsoft to be returned to the antitrust theories of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s," the senator was reported as saying.
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