Chase denies Gates said ‘How much to screw Netscape’
But it's not entirely clear what the lad did say, then...
MS on Trial Bill Gates never said to AOL executives: "How much to screw Netscape," according to Microsoft VP Brad Chase. But he confirms that the Microsoft people at the meeting were "aggressive", and that it was therefore possible for the AOL people to derive this kind of meaning from whatever it was Bill said. Not that Bill is admitted to have said anything, according to Chase. He didn't say: "This is your lucky day," either. Note that Chase says that it was "we" who were aggressive, suggesting therefore that Bill didn't say it, and if anybody said anything dangerous, then maybe it was somebody other than Bill. Brad Chase is obviously a loyal lieutenant. Bearing in mind that AOL remains a valued partner until January 2001 (when the current browser deal expires), Chase however insisting he wasn't accusing AOL of making it all up. So the AOL internal email reporting the meeting must just have been mistaken, right? The meeting in question was the 1996 AOL-MS summit where Microsoft lobbied to have AOL defect from Netscape Navigator. The presence of Gates and Chase makes it clear how important it was for Microsoft -- wasn't IE line management testifying that this kind of deal was his job just the other day? (see MS exec denies knowledge) During Chase's cross examination the DoJ produced a memo from Gates written prior to the meeting, where he says "we have to make sure that we don't allow them to promote Netscape". Chase also ran into a little trouble over his claim that Netscape could easily distribute browsers via downloads. Microsoft data showing that downloads had played no part in growth of browser distribution were produced, and of course there's that Microsoft focus group, undertaken pre-Windows 98, where the consensus was that they wouldn't want to waste time and money downloading browsers, but that they'd shift from Netscape if the browser came with the OS. So why was Chase claiming this in the first place? Well, Microsoft actually believes it to be true, or at least believes it will be true. Some of Microsoft's own software, eg. Outlook 98, is now actually rather difficult to get hold of other than via the Web. The company wants to use Active Setup across the Web to distribute software, and genuinely believes that this class of software distribution is the future. But as usual, its thinking is a couple of years ahead of itself. ® Complete Register trial coverage
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