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Rational president obeys MS call to colours

Or, as he put it, does his duty as a citizen

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MS on Trial Michael Devlin, president of tools maker Rational, had his half-day in court. For him, it was clearly a marketing exercise and a call to the colours by Microsoft. His direct testimony read like a sales brochure, included a promotional video, and included only the very kindest things about Microsoft. Devlin claims that agreeing to testify would be "neutral to our business interests" and that he "felt it was my duty to do so as a citizen". In his cross-examination, David Boies established that Rational depended on Microsoft in several ways. Devlin could not deny what had been written in the company's 10-Q to the SEC "The company believes its continued success will increasingly become dependent on its ability to support the Microsoft platform, including the Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows NT operating systems" and so Microsoft's success was closely linked to Rational's success. Rational also has a contract with Microsoft whereby Relational's Rose product is included in Microsoft Visual Studio. At the end of his cross-examination, Devlin admitted to Boies that his lawyer had discussed it "with Microsoft people", but he did not know with whom because he worked through his lawyer. It could be that Tom Burt of Microsoft, who conducted the redirect examination, was one of the Microsoft people. Judge Jackson instructed Burt not to reiterate issues covered in the direct testimony, but he did so nevertheless. One example was when he asked if Rational had developed products for Navigator, which set Devlin up for a tirade as to how Microsoft's componentisation of IE was easier to use. Boies in his recross asked Devlin about some other sections of Rational's 10-Q: "Although certain aspects of the business alliance are contractual in nature, many important aspects of the relationship depend on the continued co-operation of the two companies, and there can be no assurance that Rational and Microsoft will be able to work together successfully over an extended period of time. "In addition, there can be no assurance that Microsoft will not use the information it gains in its relationship with rational to develop or market competing products. ... There can be no assurance that Microsoft will not use such rights to create and distribute products that compete with other Rational products. ... Should Microsoft exercise such right sales of the visual test product by Rational could be materially and adversely impacted. ... While Rational believes that Microsoft's and Rational's strategies currently are complementary, there can be no assurance that Microsoft will not use this right to develop and market competing products in the future." Boies had of course fingered a very compelling reason for Rational to help Microsoft in its hour of need. It was surprising that Microsoft had not been able to find a more distant ISV to testify on its behalf - but perhaps Microsoft general counsel Bill Neukom had underestimated the ability of the DoJ team. The result was another coffin nail. Will Poole, Microsoft's senior director of business development for Windows, should be giving evidence today, especially about Microsoft's relations with the content providers. The question is will Will or won't Will rewrite history? ® Complete Register trial coverage

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