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IBM witness – MS probes for conflict within IBM

Ah, the 'witness is a rogue cannon' gambit...

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MS on Trial Microsoft counsel Richard Pepperman, during the deposition of Garry Norris of IBM, revealed a document from Brian Conners, VP of IBM's consumer division, that said: "I would like to feature IE only and remove Netscape. This is contingent upon Microsoft supporting IGN [IBM Global Network] as an ISP. Also with IE 4.0 we will have a channel (1 or 2 of 10) to personalise." Norris said he did not previously know of this. Microsoft is clearly seeking to show that there was some dissent within IBM, and that the browser market was competitive (except that Microsoft does not like to recognise the existence of a browser market, of course). The purpose of Pepperman revealing these details appeared to be so that Microsoft could be seen to be a fair player in the negotiations, and to detract from the absolute power that Microsoft had over OEMs. It became clearer as questioning proceeded that Pepperman wanted to establish that Microsoft was essential to IBM and that it accommodated at least some of IBM's particular contractual needs, even though IBM was Microsoft's most vigorous competitor at the time. Pepperman was interested in having on record an extract from an internal IBM memorandum (about a request for bonuses) that said: "During these negotiations, Microsoft provided IBM with concessions such as selective recovery, recovery CD distribution, open bay, EIAA, and the team negotiated more agreeable terms over onerous terms such as new OPK implementation and GUI restrictions." Occasionally Norris showed some spark. When asked: "It was IBM's first priority, though, wasn't it, to sell and promote IBM solutions on IBM platforms?" he replied: "That's what companies normally do that make products for a profit, yes." Microsoft's greatest fear must be in Norris' direct examination, and the documents that are produced at the time. It begins to look as though IBM is gaining confidence about its contractual relationship with Microsoft. Perhaps revenge will also be sweet, at least for those with a long-enough memory about the OS/2 saga. ® Complete Register trial coverage

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