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Microsoft intimidatory tactics attract attention

Witness Harris has a word or six with an old MS contact

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Microsoft has been trying to intimidate DoJ witnesses by putting in the from row of the court the Microsoft staffer with whom the witness had had most dealings. In the case of Intuit CEO William Harris, it was Will Poole. There was some suspicion that Poole's story that Gates had personally required that the length of the agreement for the Intuit icon on the channel bar be one year, and that the Netscape browser could not be promoted, was phoney. Harris, to his credit, considered it possible that this might have been a negotiating tactic by Poole. During a mid-morning recess, Poole approached Harris and engaged him in conversation. There is a grave danger that such an action could be interpreted as interfering with a witness, and in the UK it would be regarded as a very serious offence, resulting in the certain expulsion from the courtroom of the offender, and possibly their arrest pending a criminal charge. The transcript does not show any complaint by the DoJ about this, but David Boies was either aware of it or became aware of it as a result of a question during his redirect: Boies: When was the last time you spoke with Mr. Poole? Harris: He was -- well, he's in the room and he came up and chatted with me just at this break. Boies: What did he say to you at the break? Harris: I believe he was attempting to be helpful. He said that - Boies: I'm sure he was, but I'd like to know what he said. Harris: He said that I should be aware that in IE 5, Microsoft was making it easier to change the default browser page and that, in fact, that was their strategy and intent across many different venues with Internet service providers, with OEM's, et cetera, making it easier for them to set defaults rather than Microsoft. Boies: In that conversation, did Mr. Poole tell you what Microsoft's plans would be if it were to prevail in this litigation? Harris: No. It is known that a court officer said that the incident breached the rules of the court. The DoJ had previously unsuccessfully asked the Court to stop the intimidation of witnesses by Microsoft employees, but the Motion was denied. It is now rather late for a new Motion, since the last DoJ witness is currently being examined. Whether Judge Jackson will deal with the matter publicly or privately is not at present known.

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