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Judge nixes Microsoft bid to narrow case

More evidence is welcome, and the trial's getting longer...

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Microsoft failed to persuade Judge Jackson to exclude what it dubbed "extraneous issues" concerning six companies in yet another court document, filed a few hours before yesterday's hearing. The Extraneous Six are of course Intel, Apple, RealNetworks, Sun, Caldera, and Bristol Technologies. There is new information in the filing about Microsoft's relationship with Apple. Microsoft says it is alleged that it "intentionally developed incompatibilities between Windows operating system software and Apple's multimedia product [QuickTime]." Hands up those who think . . . and while you've got your hands up, do you also think it was true that Microsoft (allegedly) attempted to induce Apple to abandon Windows streaming audio-video development in exchange for Microsoft's abandoning the development of similar software for the Mac? And did Microsoft (allegedly) induce OEMs and ISVs not to support Apple's multimedia software? Thank you. You can all put your hands down now. Microsoft's filing said that if evidence from the Extraneous Six is allowed, "then the schedule for trial and the procedures to be observed should be adjusted to reflect this profound change in the nature of the case" -- meaning Microsoft wanted another delay. This time the DoJ is unlikely to support Microsoft's desire, as it did twice before, so the door keepers at the filing office of the courts should not slam the doors early tonight. In the 30-minute hearing, Judge Jackson denied Microsoft's motion "without prejudice to appropriate direction at trial" and said that he was "not prepared at this point to say I would not hear evidence". It is now looking like a six- to eight-week trial rather than the originally envisaged 30 days. Microsoft said that the DoJ was attempting to combine a number of lawsuits, but the DoJ maintained that the issues are necessary to demonstrate a pattern and practice of monopoly power, as required by a Section 2 Sherman Act case. The DoJ says that the issues corroborate "a series of [Microsoft's] anticompetitive activities". David Boies, the DoJ's ace trial lawyer whose salad days were spent on winning the epic IBM antitrust case, said that the evidence would show "the state of mind" of Microsoft executives at the time. ®

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