More memos trouble Microsoft as case delayed again

Bill's men have been leveraging the OS likee crazy, apparently...

The twice-postponed Microsoft antitrust case has been postponed again to 15 October, but Microsoft - as was widely predicted - did not succeed in getting the case dismissed. In a 54-page ruling, Judge Jackson has released some fascinating glimpses of the Microsoft internal emails that had previously been filed under seal. Microsoft's crumb of comfort was that Jackson ruled that the 20 states' argument that Microsoft leveraged from one market (Windows) to another (browsers) was not consistent with the Sherman Act. However, Jackson allowed the argument that Microsoft "has attempted to monopolize the market for Internet browsers", which is perhaps the main point of Netscape's complaints. The new revelations by Jackson in his ruling include an email from Bill Gates that complained that "the Netscape/Java combination threatens to commoditize the operating system." There is also an email from Tod Nielsen to Gates: "We are just proactively trying to put obstacles in Sun's path and get anyone who wants to write in Java to use J/Direct." Microsoft VP Moshe Dunne emailed Gates admitting in effect that users found Navigator preferable to IE: "The stunning insight is this: to make [consumers] switch away from Netscape we need to make them upgrade to [Windows 98]. . . . We can leverage these assets to convert the Navigator installed base and eclipse Netscape's browser market share leadership. But if we rely on IE4 alone to achieve this, we will fail." Christian Wildfeuer agreed: "It will be more important to leverage the [operating system] asset to make people use IE instead of Navigator." Jackson also gave details of evidence that AT&T and MCI would like to have remained browser-neutral, but had to give in to IE because otherwise Microsoft would not allow them places in its Internet connection wizard. So far as the June 1995 disputed meeting between Netscape and Microsoft is concerned, Jackson notes that the facts are in dispute. Another hearing on Microsoft's motion to narrow the case will be held on Thursday. ®

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