As the antitrust trial against Microsoft entered a six week recess on Friday, the outlook for the world's largest software company appeared increasingly bleak as yet another Microsoft witness was discredited.
On the last day of this section of the trial, David Boies, the Department of Justice's (DoJ) attorney, brought in Bob Muglia, Microsoft's senior vice president of applications and tools, to counter the government's allegations that Big Green had misused its monopoly power to sabotage Sun's Java programming language.
In written testimony released on Thursday, Muglia claimed that Microsoft had developed its own version of Java to provide software developers with more choices. But Boies confronted Muglia with an email message from Bill Gates, Microsoft's chairman, who wrote in May 1997: "I am hard core about NOT supporting JDK [Java Development Kit]1.2."
When Muglia attempted to argue about the meaning of the word 'support', judge Thomas Penfield Jackson lost his patience and shouted "Stop!"
In an improvised press conference afterwards, the Microsoft legal team tried to put a brave face on it. Bill Neukom, Microsoft's general counsel, said: "The government has tried to manufacture theatrics in the courtroom to drive the news," and he maintained that it had failed to show Microsoft's activities had harmed consumers.
The court will reconvene in April and both parties will call three rebuttal witnesses, but many observers feel that Microsoft has already lost the case, and have started to speculate on what penalties the judge may impose. The favourites to date are breaking up the company or forcing it to open up its Windows source code.
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