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Microsoft engineers accused of dirty tricks

Caldera produces damning evidence

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Investigations into Microsoft's alleged anti-competitiveness have taken an unexpected twist with allegations that the company's employees had considered a dirty tricks campaign in the battle against desktop operating systems rival DR-DOS. According to the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft engineers discussed inserting a software bug in an early version of Windows. It quotes an internal Microsoft email dated September 30, 1991, in which David Cole, head of Windows development, said :"aaronr had some pretty wild ideas after three or so beers -- earleh has some too." If the bug detected a rival program, it would "put competitors on a treadmill" and "should surely crash at some point shortly later," he wrote. Cole also warned that any bug would need to be kept secret. "One, the pure distraction factor, and two, the less people know about exactly what gets done, the better," he wrote. According to The Wall Street Journal, Cole's message was response to the "challenge of DR-DOS. The email, contained in documents subpoenade by the US government in its 1995 anti-trust suit against Microsoft, forms a key plank in Caldera's case against the company. Utah-based Caldera accuses Microsoft of intending "to destroy competition in the software industry". The company is backed by Ray Noorda, former chairman of Novell, one-time owner of DR-DOS. Caldera, which bought DR-DOS from Novell, said that its operating system was shut out by Microsoft's OEM pricing tactics. It accuses Microsoft of forcing PC vendors to take MS-DOS bundled with Windows, thereby killing off DR-DOS's chances. ®

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