US versus Microsoft case takes further twist

DoJ to file its response today

With Bill Gates about to be interrogated for a third day on Wednesday, sources in Washington DC have confirmed that the Department of Justice (DoJ) and the state attorney generals have filed a response to Microsoft's request to the federal court to throw out most of the case. That is on the principal ground that the pro-monopoly court of appeals has ruled in Microsoft's favour. An edited version of the filings is expected to be made public later today. It is not now intended to extend the scope of the case significantly, despite new revelations, which suggests that there was probably some disagreement between state and federal lawyers. Evidently the DoJ has prevailed. However, the additional evidence may strengthen the government's case that Microsoft was trying to leverage the operating system monopoly to application software and Internet software, which would be illegal. The attorneys general are known to have obtained testimony from Apple, Caldera, Intel and Real Networks. The incidents recently resurrected include putting pressure on Apple not to add streaming audio and video to QuickTime; trying to persuade Intel to stop the development of native signal processing; adding spurious warning messages to beta versions of Windows in order to claim that DR-DOS (then owned by Digital Research) would not work with Windows and so replace MS-DOS; attempting to carve up the Internet software market with Netscape; and having an exclusionary relationship with RealNetworks to prevent the software being licensed to competitors. In a bizarre twist, Microsoft has subpoenaed Netscape for items posted to two private Netscape forums, known as "Bad attitude" and "Really bad attitude". Netscape employees say that Microsoft's probable intention is to seek to divert attention from itself by making public some of the posts, which are understood to be like an online complaints book and used for venting feelings. If Netscape employees have criticised the management, there could be some minor embarrassment. The parties will meet in court on 23 September. ®

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