On the first day of hearings at Microsoft's appeals case, the software giant argued that it acted legally to promote its products and did not stifle competition.
Microsoft's lawyer, Richard Urowsky, attacked the US government's chief claim that the company was anti-competitive with its browser rivals and told the appeals court: "Nothing Microsoft did foreclosed Netscape from any portion of the marketplace."
According to Urowsky, between 1996 and 1998, Netscape's users increased from 15 million to 33 million. "Millions of people chose to use Navigator in spite of the fact that Microsoft's Internet Explorer was included in every copy of Windows," he argued.
He also claimed that the lower court was wrong to consider Microsoft's licences with manufacturers as illegal. The licences required that there be no alteration of Microsoft software when computers are first booted up, and that the company's icons be displayed on the desktop. Urowsky said: "What is at issue in this dispute is only the very first time the computer is booted up."
On the opposing side, US Justice Department attorneys Jeffrey Minear, senior litigation counsel, and David Frederick, assistant to the solicitor general, argued that the appellate court should uphold US District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's verdict and his proposed break-up of the company.
Minear said Netscape wanted its browser to become a standard but did not necessarily want to become a monopoly. "Netscape would not be the only browser," Minear said. "Competition from a monopoly is still competition. But I can't predict the markets."
According to one of the briefs filed in support of the government, Minear and Frederick argued that Microsoft "simply did not care about the requirements of federal antitrust law" and believed it could "outspend and outlast the government in court".
Representatives of 19 state attorneys general and the District of Columbia, which are plaintiffs in the case, joined the Justice Department attorneys.
On 7 June last year, Judge Jackson ordered that Microsoft be broken up to prevent future antitrust violations, and set other remedies all of which he suspended pending appeal.
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