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MS readies witness list for DoJ Wars: Episode 2

Sun VP, AOL CEO already lined up for depositions

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Microsoft will depose Michael Popov of Sun on 30 April, and following a court of appeals decision to uphold the Publicity in Taking Evidence Act, it will be open to the public at the San Francisco federal courthouse. Popov, Sun's VP and COO of staff operations, was one of the architects of the complex three-way deal with AOL and Netscape, which became a $10 billion buyout after AOL's share price shot up. AOL's CEO, Steve Case, is also being deposed, and probably Barry Schular, president of AOL's interactive services, too. It is not known who will have to appear for Netscape, following Judge Jackson's order that Microsoft could take four depositions about the deal. At first, the deal was thought to help Microsoft by suggesting that Microsoft was faced with heavyweight competitors, but the feeling began to wane after AOL announced it would be sticking with IE as its default browser for a couple of years at least. The abysmal failure of Microsoft's video demonstration of how 'easy' it was for AOL users to switch browsers from IE to Navigator appeared to remove any advantage that Microsoft might have gained, and set back its defence further by bringing into question its integrity in the court proceedings. Next Monday, there will be another status hearing at which it is probable that the names of the rebuttal witnesses to be called will be made known. In the absence of any PR moves by Microsoft, it seems very unlikely that Gates will be called by the defence, and the DoJ has more to gain by leaving Gates' video depositions as the main record for the court. Case is a likely witness, probably for the DoJ. Another name being touted is Gateway CEO Ted Waitt. It seems inevitable that two more ill-informed economists will be given the chance to make fools of themselves. Microsoft has been inviting comment about the case at its trial site but it seems that the DoJ will not be given the chance to subpoena the responses, although Microsoft did this for the DoJ's invitation to comment. Meanwhile, Microsoft's political lobbying carries on: ten senior aides to influential congress members were invited to Redmond for a briefing recently. ® Complete Register trial coverage

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