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Microsoft sabotaged QuickTime, says Apple exec

And last year's 'alliance' was struck after threats to kill Office for the Mac

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Microsoft deliberately sabotaged Apple's QuickTime for Windows as part of a campaign to drive the company out of the multimedia playback business, according to testimony released by the DoJ last night. Apple senior VP Avadis (aka Avie, appropriately enough) Tevanian said Microsoft programmers introduced misleading error messages and "technical bypasses" which stopped QuickTime playing some files. Tevanian, who is due to be cross-examined on his testimony next week, says that Microsoft had threatened to overwhelm Apple by putting 150 engineers on development of its own player. Microsoft's Eric Engstrom led the charge, saying in a phone call: "We're going to compete fiercely on multimedia playback, and we won't let anybody [else] have playback in Windows. We consider that part of the operating system, so you're going to have to give up multimedia playback on Windows." If this constitutes an accurate statement of Microsoft policy, it provides belated support for the claims of RealNetworks' boss, Rob Glaser, back in July that Microsoft deliberately 'broke' his player. Tevanian also claims that Microsoft further put the squeeze on QuickTime by using threats and exclusionary contracts against OEM customers, including Compaq. Again, if Microsoft defines multimedia playback as part of the OS, then it becomes part of the 'integrity' of the product which Microsoft is so keen to defend in its OEM contracts. Some might say this is exclusionary; Microsoft says this is just legitimate defence of its intellectual property. Humorously, the question of intellectual property with respect to Quicktime reared its head in the trial earlier in the week (see Microsoft paid Apple $150m to settle QuickTime suit). Tevanian's testimony also beefs-up the DoJ's case as far as the 'peace treaty' between Apple and Microsoft last year is concerned. Bill Gates, said Tevanian, was "very upset" that Apple standardised on Navigator as its browser, and in May 1997 Microsoft said it would cease application development for the Mac if Apple didn't switch to Internet Explorer and settle intellectual property disputes (including, no doubt, the QuickTime problem) "on terms acceptable to Microsoft". In Tevanian's view, Apple had no choice but to give in. He also claims that at the time of this threat development of Microsoft Office 98 for the Mac was well advanced -- if this is true (it could be substantiated) then it's a measure of how far Microsoft was prepared to go to achieve its aims. Microsoft reacted to Tevanian's testimony last night by claiming that the allegation that it used threats withdrawal of support for Office to force Apple to use IE was a deliberate distortion. The company added that problems with QuickTime for Windows were all of Apple's making, not Microsoft's. ® Complete Register trial coverage Click for more stories Click for story index

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