Despite protests from Microsoft, the news media will have access to depositions given by top IT executives during the software giant's upcoming antitrust trial scheduled to start on 11 March.
The decision, reached by US District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, will mean that depositions from Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer, as well as Jim Barksdale, former chief executive at Netscape, will be available to the public before the executives appear in the court room.
The depositions will be presented in the antitrust dispute between Microsoft and nine states that have rejected a rival settlement already accepted by Microsoft, the US Department of Justice and the remaining states that filed against the software giant.
In the original case that lead to this latest trial, videotapes of Microsoft chairman Bill Gates's deposition, and his performance under examination, were seen to be damaging to the perception of the company and its case. This time the often blunt-speaking Ballmer will be the focus of attention.
There will also be depositions from James Allchin, Microsoft's group vice president of the platforms division, and Mitchell Kertzman, chief executive of Microsoft rival Liberate Technologies, which develops software for broadband internet services.
Scott McNeally, chief executive of Sun Microsystems, was expected to be called and the same rights were extended to his deposition, but neither side in the trial has called him.
Microsoft had sought to have the media barred from viewing the transcripts arguing that it would impose an undue burden on its defence.
But Judge Kollar-Kotelly ruled that the media should have access to the depositions, with some restrictions. The videotapes and transcripts given by the four executives set to be used in the case will be edited to remove sensitive proprietary information.
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