Smoking email suggests Gates ordered PDA techno-sabotage

And at the height of the trial, too...

MS on Trial A cracker of an email from Gates to senior Microsoft executives has come to light, but unfortunately the text has been redacted, possibly because it has not been presented to the court. If this is the case we may get to know more if Judge Jackson allows it to be filed publicly at the hearing. We can get some clues about the context in which the email is discussed. The DoJ Memorandum says: "On July 11, 1999, less than thirty days after the conclusion of the trial in this action, Bill Gates wrote an email directing that Microsoft redesign its software in order to harm competitors. This time, the products in question were the Personal Digital Appliances that Microsoft heralded at trial as one of the products that might someday undo its monopoly. After discussing the Palm computing platform, Mr Gates concluded in his email: [and this is where the redacted email is quoted]. Frustrating, isn't it? But hang on, there's a bit more. A Declaration by Rebecca Henderson (more about her role soon), first refers to a Gates' email of 28 January 1997 "instructing staff that it would be the wrong strategy not to force Office users to use IE and to make unilateral extensions to HTML, instructing them to patent elements of Microsoft's HTML rendering engine and make it extremely hard to clone, and explaining sarcastically that if his staff does not want .to do anything proprietary' in the browser, they .have to stop viewing HTML as central to our strategy and get another strategy'." She then goes on to say that "Microsoft is continuing to use Office in this way. For example, on July 11, 1999, Bill Gates instructed his subordinates to demonstrate to a hand-held computer OEM" [and here follows the same, email, but this time with the remark that it is "REDACTED ­ UNDER SEAL". Since this email was sent after the end of the trial, Judge Jackson could not have required it to be filed under seal. No doubt Microsoft's lawyers have been jumping very high indeed in an attempt to stop this email becoming public, and so possibly the DoJ has agreed for the time being to file it under seal. We can only hope that the DoJ will ask that it be be unsealed. Henderson goes on to say that "Similarly internal Microsoft documents suggest that Microsoft planned to create [REDACTED - probably one or two words] between Office and its companion server product BackOffice and its Windows CE operating system in order to, amongst other goals," [REDACTED - room for about a dozen words]. So, what's it all about? The most likely explanation seems to be that Gates intended the victim of some dirty tricks to be Palm, and that the email goes into some detail as to how Gates wanted Palm to be shafted. Now if you're wondering why Gates would want to do that, remember that he tried to buy the Palm software business in 1998 - and for all we know might have tried again, unsuccessfully. Gates is renowned for trying to get revenge when he is rebuffed. It's clear that his action is yet another serious gaffe at a very inopportune time, since it strengthens arguments about the impossibility of conduct remedies alone bringing about a sufficient change to Microsoft's corporate culture. ® Related story: Gates wanted to buy Palm's software business, says report Complete Register Trial coverage

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