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MS mounts Linux sales pitch in trial video

Our old friend from Halloween loves it, apparently...

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The personal appearance in the Washington courtroom by Paul Maritz was preceded by three commercials on videotape. The presenter of the messages was John Warden, the self-confessed non-techie lawyer on Microsoft's team. At the start he tried to pass off a document that purported to be an IBM strategy document entitled "Network computing division strategy posted on the Internet" as an IBM document, but it was not from an IBM web site. Microsoft had tried to authenticate it with IBM, but failed, so David Boies successfully had it excluded on the grounds of doubtful authenticity. The first commercial break was - read this carefully - Microsoft rooting for Caldera's OpenLinux on videotape. So who was the star, I hear you cry? None other than Vinod Valloppil, here described as a Microsoft program manager, but perhaps better known as the author of the Halloween documents. He said that Linux provided "effective functionality"; it looked "just like Microsoft Windows"; it had a "growing list of third-party application support"; and "corporate backing" from Netscape, Intel, Oracle, Sun, and IBM. The cheeky chappy was both devious and factually wrong of course in describing Caldera's product as "Caldera's operating system", and attributes features to Caldera that are in fact from the KDE desktop environment. Unfortunately, Boies did not pick this up. The only clue that Valloppil did not work for Caldera was that he added "popular" when describing Windows and Office. He ended with this message: "In summary, I have demonstrated that Caldera's operating system is: first, powerful and easy to use; second, that there are significant third-party support in both software and hardware companies; and finally, that Caldera's product bundles a strong office productivity suite from Star Division which is not only interoperable with Microsoft products, but is also designed to work and look like Microsoft products so that users of these products will be comfortable and productive using these programs. "This concludes the demonstration of Caldera OpenLinux operating system version 1.3." It is not The Register's normal practice to present to readers unadulterated, unfiltered sales pitches, but we thought that this was an interesting enough to be worthy of exception. The second demo was for WebTV, although Warden forgot to mention Microsoft's connection. The implication was that it was easy to start such a service, with just $1.5 million of initial financing, but again, there was no mention of who was guaranteeing the enormous debt. Boies raised in his cross-examination of Maritz whether Microsoft had represented that WebTV was a competitor, when it was seeking antitrust approval for the transaction, but Maritz said he did not know. The final demo was of IBM's Network Station 1000, which "does not use any Microsoft software" and has "comparable power and performance to the traditional personal computer running Microsoft software." Warden was too incompetent to reinforce the points that Microsoft was trying to make. They were not clever, and certainly not convincing. He also played them out of sequence. ® Complete Register trial coverage

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