A computer science professor took the stand in the Microsoft antitrust trial on Monday to try and disprove Big Green?s contention that its browser and operating system are inseparable.
In a video shown in court, Edward Felten, an assistant professor in computer science from Princeton University, demonstrated how a program he had designed could remove all visible traces of Internet Explorer (IE) from Windows 98.
The move was an attempt to correborate allegations by the Department of Justice (DOJ) that the integration of IE into Windows 95 and 98 amounts to an illegal tying together of the two products.
Microsoft, on the other hand, contends that the two form one single, integrated - and inseparable - product.
The browser integration issue has already been a bone of contention between Microsoft and the DoJ. In December 1997, Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ruled that Microsoft had to offer PC makers a version of Windows 95 that did not include IE. While Microsoft complied with the ruling, it was reversed by the Court of Appeal in June 1998 - a point the DoJ is not willing to concede to.
But Big Green disputed Felten?s demonstration in a written reply to his pre-trial testimony, which was released on Friday.
?Despite extensive effort, Dr. Felten did not actually remove Internet Explorer from Windows 98; he only hid some of the functionality it provides, which obviously does not benefit consumers,? the statement read.
It continued that even if the browser could be removed, it did not prove that it was not an integrated part of the operating system.
?You can surgically remove someone?s right arm, but the arm was certainly a useful part of the person?s body before it was removed,? the company argued.
Separately, Microsoft attempted to use the new alliance between Oracle and Sun (see separate story) to prove that the software business is highly competitive. The two suppliers plan to ship dedicated database servers that do not run Microsoft software.
The Microsoft trial, which is now in its ninth week, will take a Christmas break from Thursday. The Government will present its two final witnesses from 4 January, and Microsoft?s 12 witnesses will provide their testimony from 6 January.
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