Jeff Papows, chief executive of Lotus Development, will address a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. He will join Oracle?s Larry Ellison and Sybase?s Mitchell Kertzman in addressing software competition issues.
A Lotus spokesperson on Monday confirmed that Papows would address the committee, but declined to specify on what issues he had been asked to testify.
?It?s a continuation of our series of hearings on competition in the digital age," said a spokesperson for the committee.
An earlier hearing, in March, featured Sun?s Scott McNealy and Netscape?s Jim Barksdale. Unlike then, Bill Gates is not expected to attend this time.
The March hearing produced little more than soundbites, though it probably contributed towards the Department of Justice?s decision to file its antitrust suit against Microsoft in May. It was also the official coming out of Committee chairman Senator Orrin Hatch as the leading anti-Microsoft policymaker. Senator Hatch represents the state of Utah, home base of long time Microsoft foe Novell.
Thursday's hearing is officially about 'Competition in the digital age: beyond the browser wars', but a news release from the committee leaves little doubt that the true subject is Microsoft.
In a prepared statement, Senator Hatch said: ?I believe we need to look beyond the so-called 'browser wars'. Notwithstanding the important consequences of the browser wars, we should not allow preoccupation with this particular issue to prevent us from examining broader and more current issues which could have significant long term consequences for the ability of US consumers to reap the rewards of a competitive and innovative software industry, and the continued growth of a free and open Internet."
Oracle chairman and CEO Larry Ellison is one of the harshest critics of Microsoft. Mitchell Kertzman of Sybase is generally less outspoken. Both companies compete with Microsoft ? and each other - in the database and tools markets.
Lotus, a subsidiary of IBM, competes with Microsoft in a number of areas including office productivity software, messaging software and Internet servers.
The Senate hearing is likely to explore Microsoft?s hold of the productivity software market with Office. Ironically, this issue has just been dropped from the antitrust case filed by 20 US States.
Another issue likely to come under scrutiny on Thursday is Microsoft?s inroads into the Internet access market, with its purchase of WebTV and its investments in cable company Comcast and in Time Warner?s high speed cable Internet access project.
In a separate development on Monday, a former Acer employee was quoted by Reuters as saying that the company was pressured by Microsoft several times to bundle application software from Microsoft rather than from other companies, such as Lotus.
The former employee, Ricardo Correa, claimed that in early 1997 a deal to bundle Lotus Smartsuite on Acer?s consumer PCs fell through after a call from Microsoft?s ?top management? to Acer. Two other similar instances occurred, one involving Lotus? parent company IBM and the other Canadian software company Corel. Lotus refused to comment on the story. Acer and Microsoft have denied the allegations. The alleged incidents are almost certain to be addressed during Thursday?s hearing.
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