Bill Gates emerged narrowly the winner from Tuesday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, which pitted him against adversaries Scott McNealy of Sun and Jim Barksdale of Netscape.
Very few new facts emerged, and Gates offered a spirited defence while still appearing co-operative. Gates was greatly helped by the last minute addition to the panel of Microsoft supporters Michael Dell (Dell Computer) and Doug Burgum (Great Plains Software) and of independent industry analyst Stewart Alsop.
McNealy and Barksdale asked that the Senate Judiciary Committee should urge the Department of Justice to bring a broad antitrust case against Microsoft, for abusing its monopoly of the desktop software market. This would go further than the current DoJ case, which is limited to whether or not Microsoft has violated the 1995 Consent Decree.
But Gates refused to concede that Microsoft's position in the desktop PC market amounts to a monopoly, stressing the volatility of the market.
All parties agreed that there is no call for special legislation to regulate the software industry. McNealy and Barksdale said Microsoft should be prosecuted under existing antitrust law.
The Senate Judiciary Committee appeared to be concerned mostly with Microsoft's plans for the Internet marketplace, rather than other monopoly issues.
In the most damaging exchange for Microsoft, Committee chairman Orrin Hatch tried for several minutes to get Gates to answer 'yes' or 'no' to the question: "Does Microsoft limit Internet content providers from advertising other browsers?"
Finally, Hatch left Gates no option but to admit that, yes, there were certain limitations to what content providers can do if they wish to figure in the Microsoft 'Channel Guide', which is a part of the Windows 98 Active Desktop.
Gates admitted that these content providers may not advertise other browsers on the Web page that is referenced from the Channel Guide. But he said this limitation only holds for this one Web page, not for the rest of the site.
A bit later, Gates also conceded that content providers who wish to be listed in the Channel Guide are not allowed to pay to be listed in other company's guides. (See full story in the Analysis section)
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