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Gates fingered as running predatory strategy

Final prosecution witness attempts to bring it all back home

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The DoJ's final witness, MIT economist Franklin Fisher, has produced a blockbuster 'summing up' piece of testimony which endeavours to show clearly first that Microsoft is a monopoly which engages in predatory conduct, and second that this conduct is driven by Bill Gates, not 'loose cannon' subordinates. In written testimony released yesterday, Fisher says: "It is worth emphasising that the Microsoft documents that reveal Microsoft's predation are not documents from low-level employees or employees likely to be misinformed about the purpose and effect of the company's conduct. Many of the most significant documents are documents to or from CEO Bill Gates personally." Basically, this takes the DoJ's case full circle. It opened with testimony showing Bill Gates vague and evasive about documentation either to or from him, and it's being rounded-off with the DoJ's final expert witness portraying it as inconceivable that the man in charge knew as little as Gates claims in his testimony. Fisher tries to show a coherent predatory strategy driven from the top, rather than just being the work of individual product managers. He also describes it as a strategy that covered relations with Intel, Apple and Netscape, over NSP, QuickTime and Navigator: "In each case, Microsoft was confronted with platform-level software to which applications programs could be written. In each case, platform-level APIs threatened to erode the applications programming barrier to entry into PC operating systems by supporting applications programs that could be used with multiple operating systems. In each case, Microsoft responded by attempting to get the supplier of the potential alternative platform-level software to agree to withdraw from offering it and to concentrate instead on products that did not offer platform potential. In each case, Microsoft was prepared to act to preclude the supplier of a potential platform-level software from succeeding in offering the platform. Even if such actions 'did not make sense from a business standpoint.'" "'Taking action that does not make sense from a business standpoint' in order to restrict competition," he says, "is the essence of predatory anti-competitive conduct." To refute this Microsoft will have to first discredit his claims - which are backed up by Microsoft documentation - that IE is a 'negative revenue' product, and then undermine his contention that it's a systematic, predatory strategy driven from the highest level. He's going to have an interesting few days on the stand. ® Complete Register trial coverage

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