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Secret evidence III: 'give in or we'll audit you' – MS

The evidence begins to move beyond the anodyne

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MS on Trial The en clair information in the first version of the von Holle deposition that was released by Gateway was about James von Holle's background; there was also a plug to the effect that Gateway bears the cost of customer support; a few lines of description of Gateway's Destination system; with the remainder concerned with the administrative arrangements of the deposition. Ripping stuff, no? Version two of the deposition reveals that von Holle contradicted himself a number of times, for example as to whether Gateway would like to see a choice of OS vendors. He was pressed as to why Gateway wanted to have the IE icon removed after the user had decided which browser to use - which Microsoft would not allow. It seemed very strange that there was no consideration given to the desirability of having quite a few browsers, but evidently Gateway's customers seem to include a high percentage of newbies. Perhaps von Holle's explanation of a desire to avoid confusion between browsers has some merit, but a more likely story is Gateway's desire to differentiate itself. There was also the issue of trying to reduce the cost of calls from confused punters. A Gateway response to a DoJ Interrogatory said: "With regard to communications regarding Gateway's installation of products of software manufacturers other than Microsoft, after Gateway began offering Netscape Navigator, a competitive browser product, with its systems, Microsoft representatives repeatedly told Gateway representatives that Microsoft considers Gateway's offer of the competitive product a 'serious' issue that would "affect our working relationship". This is a very stark threat from a company that would like to think it is mature enough to attract enterprise business. A further little gem was seen in an email copied to von Holle concerning the strained relationship between Gateway and Microsoft: "In addition, when Gateway elected to use Netscape Navigator as the browser on its Intranet, Microsoft representatives again strenuously objected. In fact, Microsoft representatives strongly implied to Troy Miller of Gateway that Microsoft would compensate Gateway for its 'investment with Netscape' if Gateway would 'remove the Netscape browser and replace it with IE.'" An unpleasant threat was that "In addition, Microsoft representatives threatened that Microsoft would audit Gateway's internal use of Microsoft products and, contrary to a verbal agreement between executives of the companies, Microsoft would charge Gateway a royalty for each copy of an Microsoft product used at a Gateway facility." Gateway's main sin, in Microsoft's eyes, was to encourage users to choose which browser they preferred, with Microsoft of course wanting the possibility of a choice to be suppressed. We also learn that "Dell turned Netscape down" because they did not want to hurt their relationship with Microsoft, and received "special things" as a result. There was just one funny moment to do with what Gateway called a registration button for gateway.com (and which Microsoft evidently regarded as an icon that made it less likely that users would sign up with MSN or a tame Microsoft-approved ISP). The external name was the Internet registration button but internally, Gateway called this as the BAB - the Big Ass Button. ® Related stories Gateway exec's secret MS evidence Bringing Gateway to heel Complete Register Trial coverage

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