MS exec claims Gates was wrong – ex-MS exec?
Dan Rosen suffers the embarrassment of being abandoned by the prosectution because he's discredited enough already
MS on Trial Microsoft's latest defence witness apparently crashed and burned yesterday as DoJ attorney David Boies stopped cross-examination in mid sentence, and said he had no further questions. Dan Rosen, Microsoft general manager of new technology had been shot down already as far as Boies was concerned, and machine-gunning him in his parachute served no further purpose. Boies is of course now fairly confident that he has this stage of the case in the bag, and - not to put too fine a point on it - is sucking up to the judge by keeping his questioning short and to the point. Both he and Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson have other trials to deal with in the near future, and the judge yesterday said the court would recess for March, with the trial restarting on 12 April at the earliest. We at The Register told you this some time ago, of course (see Schedule prediction). Judge Jackson wants the final Microsoft witnesses out of the way by Friday at the latest though, so is going to get displeased with attorneys who interfere with this. Boies' easy dismemberment of Rosen was, however, a further ominous sign for Microsoft. Rosen's evidence was intended to help determine what went on at the Microsoft-Netscape meeting of 1995, where Netscape alleges that Microsoft offered a deal to carve-up the browser market between the two companies. But under questioning Rosen contradicted his own written deposition, other Microsoft witnesses, and even said he thought Bill Gates was wrong. He was then contradicted some more when Boies produced some of Rosen's own memos, which again differed. Basically, he was all over the place, and seemed to have been unable to fix on one consistent story. Rosen had written that a goal of the meeting for Microsoft was to "establish Microsoft ownership of the Internet platform." He then explained that in Microsoftspeak ownership just meant making things run better, so he hadn't meant Microsoft was trying to destroy Netscape or anything nasty. Judge Jackson was gobsmacked: "Ownership means delivering on something you promised?" Rosen also claimed, despite clear evidence that virtually the entire Microsoft high command from Gates down viewed Netscape as a deadly threat, that he hadn't seen the company as a competitor in 1995, 1996 or 1997. The testimony of Paul Maritz and Brad Chase, which Boies then referred to, made it clear that they thought Netscape was a serious danger, but Rosen said he hadn't talked to them about this. As the icing on the cake, he then dismissed Bill Gates' May 1995 Internet Tidal Wave document (see Bill Gates discovers the Web). "I remember at the time thinking I probably had a better perspective on it than Mr. Gates," said Rosen. He then got himself into trouble over a May 95 email of his own which did say Netscape was a threat, but which he said he hadn't sent. It was then pointed out to him that it had been. Rosen said he couldn't remember sending it, and that he was embarrassed about some of the stuff he'd written then, when he hadn't been with Microsoft long (eight months). You see why Boies gave up on him? But how come this stuff happens with the Microsoft defence? We at The Register are developing a theory that it's corporate culture that's to blame. Microsoft runs by chucking vast amounts of resources at problems. This expenditure tends not however to be co-ordinated, properly directed, or even properly thought out. This means its employees are overworked, and their output tends to be low quality and under-researched. A recent wise-crack we heard was: "It's so characteristic of them to not prepare their case meticulously, but rather ship first and try to debug in the field," which basically sums it up. Rather than boning-up on all of the trial exhibits and depositions first and then producing their own depositions, MS execs are tending to just knock-off the first thing that comes into their heads. Rosen doesn't even seem to have had the wit (or maybe the time) to check out what he'd said in the past, and what the DoJ was surely going to ask him about. And if MS thinks it's OK, because it can still ship the finished product at Trial 3.1 stage, it may well find itself out of luck. ® Complete Register trial coverage