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AOL responds to DoJ IE claims

A business decision, says Case

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Steve Case, chairman of AOL, has been correcting the record concerning Microsoft's wooing AOL to Internet Explorer and away from Netscape Navigator. Speaking at the Upside conference yesterday in Washington, Case said: "Our choice was Microsoft, in large part because they provided [IE] free and also were willing to bundle us with their operating system." The AOL icon was better placed than the MSN icon -- a decision made directly by Gates because he was determined that AOL would only distribute IE. Initially, Gates had opposed VP Brad Silverberg's suggestion as to where the icon should be. Silverberg is on long-term leave of absence, and the last report was that he was bicycling in Canada. He has not given a deposition in the case. Microsoft told another story to Judge Jackson on 11 September when it claimed that AOL had chosen IE as a result of "its superior features in a side-by-side comparison". An email from Gates, produced by the DoJ, showed that Gates believed that Case considered IE to be an inferior product. At the same conference, Roberta Katz, general counsel for Netscape, said that Gates knew that offering the prime desktop position for AOL's icon "was going to be the clincher, because no one else has that kind of power". Meanwhile, AOL has hired Geraldine Laybourne's Oxygen Media to run its three women's sites, in the hope of keeping the female 51 per cent of AOL's users happy. She was formerly president of Disney/ABC Cable Networks, and persuaded Disney to supply some start-up funds for Oxygen. ®

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