A row has broken out over whether or not Microsoft chairman Bill Gates said during an interview that he is willing to open source Windows to settle the company's antitrust lawsuit.
The comment was allegedly made 'off camera' following a televised interview with Bloomberg TV. Microsoft quickly denied that Gates had made the remark and asked for a correction, but the broadcaster is standing by its story.
In answer to the question over whether Microsoft is prepared to go down the open source route to bring an end to the Department of Justice lawsuit, he allegedly replied: "Yes...If that's all it took."
A Microsoft UK spokesman said: "According to Corp in the US, Bill did not say the alleged comment and all that he did say was that 'we [Microsoft] would try to do our best to settle this case'."
Matthew Winkler, Bloomberg News editor-in-chief said: "We stand by our story."
Judge Richard Posner has warned the parties - the US Justice Department and the 19 states who are suing the software maker - not to talk to the media while the case goes through its mediation phase.
Opening the Windows source code would cost Microsoft dear as the operating system accounts for about 40 per cent of its revenue. But the move could help the software giant contend that it is not using its monopoly status to crush competition.
Dan Kusnetzky, analyst at IDC, said: "Software engineering is one of the few places where people don't have to hold up their work to the public. It seems to be acceptable to build something, ship it to the public and none other than the company can look at it and say whether it is safe or reliable."
He added: "This would not be acceptable for any other type of engineering such as building a bridge, or an airport. The plans are there for inspection so the public can be satisfied no short cuts have been taken and the proper calculations have been done."
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