Microsoft's lawyers tried to convince the Washington court yesterday, in the company's ongoing court battle with the US Department of Justice (DoJ) that Linux is threatening Microsoft Windows and outselling it in some retail channels. However, expert witness from the Massachusetts' Institute of Technology's, Dr Fisher, appeared unconvinced that Redmond is about to be toppled by freeware.
Microsoft's lawyer, Michael Lacovara, asked Fisher if he had assessed how Linux sells compared to Windows at any major retail outfits. Fisher had not and Lacovara informed him that: "Linux is outselling Windows 98 two to one at Microcenter and Fries Electronics?"
Fisher queried the figures, arguing that the terms, dollars or units shipped, were key. In fact, the figures supplied by Lacovara were in dollars, and the Fisher suggested that a truer comparison would be units shipped.
Later in the day when Fisher described Linux as 'niche', Lacovara asked him how many units would have to be sold before he would say it's no longer niche.
"The last time I looked, it was no more than about five per cent. It's going to have to get up, I would say, to well over 20 per cent and be seriously growing," Fisher replied.
When the trial opened last year, Jim Barksdale, Netscape's then chief executive, told the court that Microsoft shut Netscape out of important distribution channels. New evidence produced by Microsoft yesterday contradicted his statement to some extent. Figures from Goldman Sachs showed that towards the end of last year, Netscape was on 22 per cent of PC shipments and available online from 24 per cent of the largest Internet service providers.
Microsoft software, of course, is on just about every PC shipped, but Judge Jackson was sufficiently impressed to comment to the prosecution team: "There is some very interesting information in there that I would hope that you are going to revisit."
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