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MS makes last minute bid to suppress Compaq evidence

Threatening Big Q over Netscape icons not evidence really shock

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MS on Trial A curious sidelight in Microsoft's criticism of the DoJ's proposed findings of fact is that Microsoft is now trying to get documents detailing its earlier actions against Compaq to be ruled inadmissible, and to substitute a different story. In the contempt case, the DoJ produced a deposition from Steve Decker, Compaq's Director of Software Procurement that showed that Microsoft threatened to cut off Compaq's Windows 95 licence unless the IE icon was not restored: Q. Why did Compaq want to remove the Internet Explorer icon at that time? A. At the time, we had a relationship with Netscape and we had been shipping their product for a while. And therefore Netscape was actually the browser partner and we wanted to give that position on the Compaq Presario desktop. Q. How did Microsoft respond to Compaq removing the Internet Explorer icon from the desktop? A. Well, when they found out about it, they sent a letter to us telling us that, you know, they would terminate our agreement for doing so. Microsoft now says that Steve Decker's testimony should not be allowed on the record because it was ex parte (in other words, Microsoft had not cross-examined Decker). Microsoft now wants to substitute the story that the icon was removed because of an agreement with AOL, rather than with Netscape. This is nit-picking, because the AOL agreement at the time would have been for Compaq to use Navigator. This pleading does not ameliorate Microsoft's action. We have probably not heard the last of this story, and there could well be more to come about internal dissent at Compaq during this period. Microsoft evidently leaned hard on Compaq, since John Rose popped up in the present case in an attempt to counter previous evidence that could not be denied - like Microsoft's threat to cancel Compaq's Windows 95 licence if Compaq did not restore the IE icon. Microsoft must feel this is an important weakness in its case, since the facts do strongly suggest that Microsoft wielded monopoly power. It will be for Judge Jackson to decide the issue. ® Complete Register Trial coverage

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