McGeady to Grove: goad Microsoft into provoking the DoJ

One wonders why he thought Microsoft needed goading before it would do this...

An intriguing email surfaced in yesterday’s court proceedings. In December 1996 Intel exec Steve ‘prima donna’ McGeady wrote to Andy ‘Mad Dog’ Grove: "Microsoft could be goaded into doing something really stupid and anticompetitive, finally enraging the apparently placid antitrust police." This could be – and was – represented by Microsoft’s attorney as evidence that McGeady had a serious axe to grind when it came to Microsoft. Outside the court the representatives of the saintly Mr Grove are still stressing that Intel is entirely neutral in the antitrust battle, and studiously turning a blind eye to the Intel loose cannon tussling with Microsoft inside. But saintly old Andy has himself said in the public prints that he “caved” to Microsoft over NSP, and while he hasn’t specified why, McGeady is making a fair stab at this for him. But why would McGeady have sent him such an email in 1996? You could take the Microsoft view that this is a crazy person badgering his boss with unhelpful suggestions. Or maybe you could look at the context. At Comdex the previous month Microsoft had rolled out Windows CE, its strategic operating systems for hand-held devices, and it used a range of rival processors, not Intel ones. It was clear at the time that Wintel was falling out big time, and the hastily-prepared release “adding” support for Intel (alongside Motorola and ARM) of 11th December that year didn’t help much. Nor did the failure of CE for Intel to ship shortly afterwards help. People keep trying to tell us this release didn’t happen, but we’ve got it, and here’s a snippet: “Microsoft confirmed that work with Intel on porting Windows CE to Intel 486 and Pentium processors has been under way for quite some time and that the port was nearly complete. Microsoft and Intel anticipate that the two companies will be able to support development of products based on Windows CE and Intel processors, including the Ultra Low Power Intel 486 SX, by January 1997.” Work “under way for some time” is clearly complete rubbish. At the time McGeady was emailing Grove the Wintel adversaries were squaring-off against one another, and Grove was probably trying to stitch up some kind of deal. McGeady’s suggestion might therefore have been helpful under the circumstances, although we’re sure St Andy is resourceful enough to have thought it up of his own accord. ® Complete Register trial coverage

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