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AOL, Netscape colluded to beat ‘Beast of Redmond’, claims MS attorney

And who can blame them? replies DoJ

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Microsoft attorney Mark Murray has taken to doing the courthouse steps speech for the company when it is felt that Microsoft's trial lawyer, John Warden, has failed to make the point well enough in court. Yesterday, Murray's theme was that there was "startling new evidence" that both Netscape and AOL had worked together against Microsoft, and that the draft agreement between them was "far more explicit" than the accusation against Microsoft for a market sharing agreement. David Boies, the DoJ's trial lawyer, said afterwards that he was not surprised that companies tried to cooperate against Microsoft. "Did you disclose [to the DoJ] that you'd made a market division proposal" [to Netscape in meetings to discuss going after] 'The beast from Redmond'?" Warden asked AOL VP David Colburn. "You're wording, not mine," replied Colburn, rather testily, adding that he wouldn't call the agreement "market division". Colburn was equally firm that whether Microsoft's software worked was only the fifth most important factor for AOL, after such considerations as securing parity with MSN, and how much AOL would have to pay. An interesting snippet to emerge in the case was that AOL CEO Steve Case told Bill Gates in January 1996 that he expected to close an agreement with Netscape that month. Gates emailed his executives: "He said he views us technically as behind Netscape but credible enough to do a very good job." He then offered Internet Explorer free to AOL, the email also said. In the face of such evidence -- Gates acknowledging that AOL thought Navigator superior, and the technical capability of IE being only fifth in order of importance to AOL -- Microsoft's claim that it won the contract "on the merits" of IE is an unsustainable position. ® Click for full Register trial coverage Click for more stories Click for story index

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