Microsoft said drop NSP or MMX gets it, says Intel exec
McGeady holds his ground in face of heavy fire from cross-examination
"[Bill Gates] was very upset we were making software of any sort... He became quite enraged." So said Steven McGeady, the Intel VP who led the development of Intel NSP software (to make a computer "dance and sing"), as he continued to give testimony to DoJ trial attorney David Boies. McGeady said that Gates had "made it very clear that Microsoft would not support our next processor offering" unless Intel realigned its software development to meet Microsoft's requirements. Microsoft viewed Intel as a competitor, he said. It was "Microsoft's desire we clear and essentially get approval for our software programs before proceeding with them", McGeady testified. An email from Gates noted that "Intel feels we have all the OEMs on hold with our NSP chill", and that would continue "unless we say it is OK". Andy Grove thought NSP was important. He emailed Gates on June 1995, saying: "Merely being critical of what we have undertaken is not helpful. Telling us to go away is not helpful; nor is it practical: we genuinely believe that the end results of the NSP initiative are vital to our long-term success, so we have to persevere." Steven Holley of Sullivan & Cromwell, Microsoft's principal outside lawyers, was put up by Microsoft to cross-examine McGeady. Before Holley started, there was legal argument as to the admissibility of videotaped deposition from Intel VP Ron Whittier, McGeady's then boss. Holley claimed that Whittier probably had better knowledge of conversations between Microsoft and Intel. A showing was eventually allowed by Judge Jackson, but it is not known if any conditions were required, such as allowing the DoJ to choose passages, as Microsoft had been able to do in the case of the Gates' videos. Holley then continued, following the same pattern that Microsoft has used previously in such examinations: first, an attempt to show there was no threat from Microsoft and, finally, trying to make the witness' company seem to be an aggressor, daring to compete with Microsoft. However, this time there was also an attempt to discredit the witness as a junior, not privy to management processes. Whittier was asked if Intel had made "any decisions in the 1995 time frame with respect to NSP, because Mr Gates or someone else at Microsoft wanted Intel to do that?" Whittier replied: "We were looking out for our own best interest, and it was in our best interest not to compromise the Windows 95 programs and, if the introduction of NSP was going to compromise Windows 95, it was not in our best interest. And that was the determining factor: not because Mr Gates was upset." Ignoring the innuendo that Intel's best interest was not to have Microsoft as an enemy encouraging the development of the Alpha, Holley asked McGeady if Whittier's statements were wrong. Holley had reached what he hoped would be the moment, trailed by Microsoft spin out of court, that he had refuted the accusations against his client. McGeady was ready and, with appropriate sarcasm, said: "As I already testified, we had some help in determining what our business interests were." McGeady explained that Whittier was using "PR spin". Summoning all his acting skills, and turning the incredulity dial to maximum, Holley asked: "At his deposition?" "Yes," McGeady replied, and seemed to win the point. At one point, McGeady humiliated Holley by accusing him of using a term from computer science "which I'm sure you don't understand". Asked why Intel had not told Microsoft about software projects it had under development, McGeady responded with spirit: "The fear that was ultimately realised, the fear that Microsoft would stomp it out of existence". Holley tried to win points with a line of questioning designed to dismiss the evidence that Microsoft had threatened to withdraw support for MMX if Intel did not drop NSP software development. McGeady was able to reinforce his earlier evidence in response, repeating that he knew from minuted top-level meetings and email from Microsoft that Microsoft was concerned that NSP [native signal processing, being developed by Intel to overcome Windows deficiencies in playing audio or video, because of interrupts] could undermine Windows. Developers would use NSP instead of Windows APIs. Microsoft made the valid point that Intel was developing for Windows 3.1 some four months before Windows 95 was released, which McGeady admitted was a mistake, but there was no examination as to how much work would be required to convert the software to Windows 95. What misfired for Microsoft was that McGeady said that Intel did this because it was convinced that Microsoft would miss its announced date for Windows 95 release. This is interesting: Intel (of Wintel, a senior partner) thinking that Windows 95 would not be ready for the market. McGeady also added that Microsoft had what he described as a "pay you tomorrow for a hamburger today" policy that resulted in Microsoft urging the cancellation of a project with the promise that it could be reincorporated in the future. This gave Holley a chance to introduce a dig against Intel about the FTC antitrust investigation that it is facing: "Isn't this a common pattern, to deny technology to companies that Intel seeks to punish?" McGeady denied this. McGeady's cross-examination will continue on Thursday as Wednesday is the Veterans Day holiday, so the court will not sit. Meanwhile, the DoJ allegede Microsoft has decided to attempt to intimidate the witness by having a senior Microsoft executive who supervises the business relationship sitting in the front row at the court. The practice has resulted in an unsuccessful complaint from the prosecution, but should there be any signalling or the waving of family snapshots at the witness in some attempt to cause their accusations to be toned down, perhaps the matter will be reconsidered. Elsewhere, Microsoft has filed a Motion to have Apple VP Avie Tevanian's testimony struck from the record. Evidently Microsoft did not like Tevanian's accusations that Microsoft sabotaged QuickTime (see earlier story). Microsoft also claimed that it its attorney had not had enough time to question Tevanian because of Judge Jackson's desire that he should get on with his examination. ® Complete Register trial coverage
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