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Gates TV – the final instalment

The world mourns as Bill's final clips hit the public domain...

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Among the thousands of pages of exhibits and depositions released at the end of the DoJ's case last week were further extracts from the videotaped depositions of Bill Gates. We have summarised the contents, with quotations from Gates' replies. This time it is indicated on the transcript whether the extract was included at the request of the DoJ or Microsoft, so we have indicated this where it is of particular interest. The questions were asked either by David Boies for the DoJ, or by Stephen Houck for the states. There are just two possibilities to explain the responses: either Gates has a serious memory problem, or he is being rude, obstructive and petulant. Judge Jackson has already indicated to Microsoft's lawyers that Microsoft has a problem with Gates. Boies asked if Gates was aware that one of the issues was the extent to which the operating system and browsers are or are not separate products. Gates: "As far as I know, the issues in the case are not -- are something that you [ie. the DoJ] decide, and I don't claim to have any expertise at all." [Microsoft extract] How very strange that the same man who has claimed he is helping his lawyers on the case doesn't know the issues. When asked if he had been trying to get Microsoft personnel to use language that would suggest that browsers and operating systems were not separate products, Gates replied: "I have no idea what you mean by that." Asked if he recognised that OEMs have a need to acquire Windows, Gates replied: "What do you mean by OEM?" There was lengthy questioning about the meaning of "browser" as compared with "browsing technologies", and it proved hard to tie Gates down to admitting what everybody else in the industry understood by the term. Gates always denies remembering the receipt of an email or memorandum that is embarrassing, so dodging the issue in it. An example is when he was asked if he remembered receiving a memo from Joachim Kempin in February 1998 that said: "Saying 'put the browser in the OS' is already a statement that is prejudicial to us. The name 'browser' suggests a separate thing." It was strange that Microsoft should have wanted included: "Was Microsoft earning any service revenue on its browsers the first quarter of 1996?" Gates replied that Microsoft had not, and "That developed into a large business subsequently in our case." Since the normal meaning of a business is an activity designed to make money, it was a very odd response from the "forever free" school of browser pricing. Perhaps he meant that Windows 98 became a business. When asked if it was in Microsoft's interest to convince financial analysts that Netscape was not going to be financially viable, Gates denied he had a goal to do that. Gates was then confronted with a May 1996 memo he had written that said: "At some point financial minded analysts will begin to consider how much revenue stream Netscape will be able to generate." It is not the case that Gates never uttered the name of Microsoft's browser competitor. He was asked what company had a browser that had been free, he replied: "Well certainly Mosaic was free. And there are a number of other browsers. The Netscape browser in its early days was also free." It must have been like therapy to get the name out in the open. Gates denied knowing if Netscape's browser revenue was zero today. He subsequently admitted: "It may have dropped to zero." Asked whether Microsoft had any intent to deprive Netscape of revenue so far as Microsoft's decision to put IE in Windows 98 was concerned, Gates said: Well, our decision to have the browser be a feature of Windows was in no way motivated by something to do with Netscape. We had chosen that that was a logical evolution of the Windows feature set [he means IE] before Netscape was a factor at all." He elaborated: "We decided it was a logical improvement of Windows to put the browser into Windows before we had much awareness of there even being a Netscape. So the decision that that would be a feature -- and as I've said, when we make something a feature of Windows, that means it's available along with all the other features and the licence fee, that decision was made very early on." Boies asked if around January 1996, did "Microsoft try to study Netscape to determine how you could reduce Netscape's ability to compete?" Dave Heiner, Gates' legal minder for the day, objected to the question, but Gates didn't 'take the fifth' and replied: "I don't know what you mean by that." Boies had set the trap however. He produced a Microsoft memo in which Gates had sent to five Microsoft executives, saying: "What kind of data do we have on how much software companies pay Netscape?" He went on to say that he didn't think he received any information as a result of his enquiry, and reinforced this by saying: "I'm quite sure I didn't". It is a very strange memory that can be "quite sure" of not receiving something, but totally unable to recall receiving similar things. Of course, he may have been anxiously awaiting the information, and disappointed that it did not come. A curious email from Paul Maritz to Gates in April 1995 is entitled "Netscape as NetWare". A footnote says: "The analogy here is that the major sin that Microsoft made with NetWare was to let Novell offer a better (actually smaller and faster with simple protocol) client for networking. "They got to critical mass and can now evolve both client and server together." Gates denied knowing what critical mass meant. Perhaps Novell should run the quote in advertisements. ® Complete Register trial coverage

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