One of the PC suppliers that testified against Microsoft to the Justice Department now says it did so "under duress".
In evidence submitted by the Justice Department to support its abuse of monopoly charges against Microsoft, a senior executive of Micron Electronics was quoted saying his firm wanted to ship Windows 95 PCs without the Internet Explorer icon, but that Microsoft refused to allow this.
But on Friday, Micron chief executive Joe Daltoso issued a statement saying that the testimony was provided only under subpoena from the Justice Department. He did not deny the validity of the testimony, but argued that it did not represent a complaint against Microsoft. "We negotiate with Microsoft and other partners on a daily basis. Give and take is the definition of business negotiations," he said.
According to the evidence of Eric Browning, Micron?s department manager for product enhancement, the company had wanted to remove the IE icon from the Windows 95 desktop because it already provided IE on its machines through a bundling deal with Sprynet. Microsoft refused to allow this to happen.
Dalotso added that he could not understand why it should be thought that the testimony - which detailed Microsoft?s insistence that Micron could not do as it wished with its desktop - was a complaint. "We do not understand why some reports have characterized this declaration - which the Justice Department compelled us to provide - as a complaint against Microsoft."
The Justice Department evidence also contains documentary evidence of Microsoft?s perception of Netscape as a serious commercial threat. Detailed analysis of the browser market - complete with an acknowledgement of the quality of Netscape?s technology - is accompanied by assessments of key individuals at Netscape.
The evidence also includes a 1996 Internet battle plan by Brad Chase, Microsoft vice president in the application and Internet client group, which included the claim to Microsoft employees: "You should be able to break most of Netscape's licensing deals and return them to our advantage because our browsers are free."
The first hearing on the Justice Department?s allegations will take place on Monday before US District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson. A court spokeswoman said the hearing will be forscheduling.
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