Valley reckons Microsoft case won't change The Beast

But they do think it will be good for competition. Puzzling, no?

What does Silicon Valley think about the Microsoft case? Well, the San Jose Mercury News' poll shows that most (52 per cent of 3241 respondents) think that the lawsuit will encourage fair competition. As to whether it would fundamentally change the way Microsoft does business, 42 per cent thought not, although 25 per cent were unsure. In Boston, Microsoft has to wait for the outcome of its appeal against US district court Judge Richard Stearns' decision not to allow it to have access to the taped interviews of Netscape execs during the preparation of a book by David Yoffie and Michael Cusumano. This could take weeks -- there are fundamental issues of privilege, and with Harvard and MIT picking up the legal bills, the case could end in the supreme court if Microsoft wins, which tends to make appellate judges very cautious and hence slow. This action against Harvard must be a bit embarrassing for Microsoft president Steve Ballmer, who is a regent of Harvard. Bill Gates is still an undergraduate, of course. A little-noted incident last week is rather amusing. Apple VP Avie Tevanian was asked to read a complex Netscape document about DLLs handed to him by Microsoft attorney Theodore Edelman. The judge ordered a recess to give him some time, but on returning to court, Tevanian said he saw nothing meaningful in it. Edelman, who had increasingly upset Judge Jackson, suggested that Tevanian should study it over the weekend. The judge noted that Dr Tevanian "may have other things to do this weekend". It was an indicative moment. Microsoft was highly embarrassed by correspondence with Compaq showing that Microsoft threatened in June 1996 that it would cancel Compaq's Windows 95 licence unless Compaq agreed to restore the Internet Explorer icon on the desktop. At the time, Compaq preferred Navigator. Stephen Decker, Compaq's director of software procurement, explained last October in his testimony for the contempt case how Compaq had dutifully restored the IE icon to the desktop after Microsoft's threat. Now Microsoft has put on its Web site extracts from Decker's videotaped deposition in which he dutifully "refuted" part of the testimony by Tevanian. The appearance of this deposition on Microsoft's site is indicative of the extent to which Compaq is beholden to Microsoft. Mark Murray, Microsoft's spokesman, said after the hearing was adjourned last week that "there is no evidence that Microsoft, in any way, sabotaged QuickTime". This is not, we note, the same as saying "Microsoft did not sabotage QuickTime". Professor William Kovacic of the George Washington School of Law noted on Friday that if a policeman pulls you over and says you're driving at 75 miles per hour in a 55 zone, it's not a defence to say that "everyone else was doing it". Microsoft is increasingly falling back on this line of defence as documents undermine its denials. ® Complete Register trial coverage Click for more stories Click for story index

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