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Court laughs as memory man fails to comprehend line of questioning, apparently...

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The Bill Gates video excerpt has become a welcome commercial break from DLL-heavy testimony at the Microsoft trial, but today his Billness surpassed himself, as the court watched him determinedly avoiding saying the N word. A bemused Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson smiled wanly as the Good Ship Gates sank gently beneath the waves. The tape showed DoJ lawyer David Boies asking Gates about an email he sent to Microsoft executives in January 1996, where he began: "Winning Internet browser share is a very, very, important goal for us." Boies reasonably asked which rival companies Microsoft was competing against, in that case (Register hint: according to Jupiter, in mid-1996 Netscape held 83 per cent of the browser market, Microsoft 7 per cent). Responded Bill: "It doesn't appear I'm talking about any other companies in that sentence." Boies persisted. "You seem to be implying that just because share involves comparing multiple companies, that when I wrote that sentence I was talking about other companies. I've really read it very carefully and I don't notice any other companies in there." Bill's dead right here, he really doesn't mention other companies, and Boies pursues this, suggesting: "You mean you don't see any other companies mentioned in that sentence. is that what you're saying?" Following on from the testimony of his illustrious president in another place, Bill says: "The sentence doesn't appear to directly or indirectly refer to any other companies… You keep trying to read Netscape into that sentence and I don't see how you can do that." And then the memory goes. He can't remember writing the email, and he doesn't know what he meant. Says Boies, "My question is what non-Microsoft browsers were you concerned about in January of 1996." Gates: "What's the question? Are you asking me when I wrote this email or what are you asking me about?" Boies: "I'm asking you about January of 1996." Gates: "That month?" Boies: "Yes, sir." Gates: "And what about it?" Boies: "What non-Microsoft browsers were you concerned about in January of 1996?" Gates: "I don't know what you mean concerned." He displayed almost equal heroism when asked about a memo sent to him by Brad Chase, which said: "We need to continue our jihad next year." Who's we? Apparently not Microsoft, claimed Bill somewhat puzzlingly. Just Brad and Bill then? Mounting their own holy war against someone/something? But not Netscape? Israel? World communism? We remain unenlightened. Fortunately the vision of Microsoft's higher echelons parachuting into the Gaza Strip, AK-47s at the ready, was dispelled by Bill's Encarta-free definition of jihad: "I think he [Chase] is referring to our vigorous efforts to make a superior product and to market that product." In the curious world of Bill Gates, "Bomb the bastards back into the stone age" is no doubt the sort of thing that translates into "build great integrated products that make corporations more proactive, empower their staff and help them work better." ® Complete Register trial coverage

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