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Judge hastens Oracle vs Microsoft

Case to proceed with "no further delay"

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Both Oracle and Microsoft claimed victory last night after Judge Jackson issued a two-page order limiting the information that Oracle must disclose to Microsoft as a result of Microsoft's 9 September subpoena. Judge Jackson narrowed Microsoft's demand to actual agreements, which Oracle said was narrower than it had offered as a compromise to Microsoft, so it looks as though Oracle has won this facet of the case. Nor will the trial be delayed if the Judge has his way: he gave Oracle until 9 October to produce any documents to Microsoft, and said that "there would be no further delay". Donald Falk, for Oracle, said the order was very narrow, reflecting Microsoft's "pattern of overreaching in the trial, as elsewhere". Mark Murray, a Microsoft spokesman, said the order did not give either side what it wanted. In an extraordinary claim, Murray added that "our major competitors, including Oracle, are doing everything the government accuses Microsoft of doing, and then some". If this is true, Microsoft should clearly open up its records and provide the appropriate evidence to the DoJ. Microsoft revealed its defence strategy for one of its major problem areas in which it is alleged that Microsoft tried to carve up the browser market with Netscape by agreeing not to compete with Netscape in non-Windows markets -- if Netscape kept out of the Windows market. Microsoft wants to claim that such agreements (also known as illegal monopolisation) are commonplace in the industry. This is why Microsoft asked Oracle for "actual, proposed, discussed, possible, abandoned, suggested, contemplated and considered" agreements about an Oracle-Netscape deal for Netscape's browser (foolishly, Microsoft made an error with its logical operators: it should have said "OR" considered instead of "AND" considered, but the lawyers seemed to miss this point). Oracle agreed to drop development of its own PowerBrowser, just as Sun had dropped the development of its Hot Java browser, in favour of Netscape's. Other areas being probed by Microsoft for its defence include what happened at an alleged 1994 meeting at which IBM, Oracle, Sun and others schemed up a "convoluted set of transactions" that would result in Lotus being sold in part to Novell in exchange for Novell offering Unix to Oracle. ® click for more stories

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