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Meanwhile, Compaq seems to want Office and OS integrated

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MS on Trial Last week Judge Jackson refused to let Microsoft call new witnesses to respond to what the company terms "the government's sweeping demands." But yesterday Microsoft submitted the witness list, along with a precis of what they would (probably) have said, anyway. And some of it's fascinating; Compaq CEO Mike Capellas sings the virtues of having a single vendor for OS and apps (so rival vendors can forget the Compaq gig), while one of the other star witnesses, Jeffrey Katzenberg of DreamWorks, seems to have a Web site that runs on, er, Linux.

We'll take Capellas first. "The base platform that most customers want includes a personal computer, an operating system and a set of basic productivity applications that can be used to accomplish important tasks. Compaq provides such a solution to customers by integrating the PC with the operating system and the associated hardware peripherals and software applications. The fact that the operating system and certain key applications have been developed and tested by a single company to work seamlessly together generally makes the software more reliable, better performing, and less costly for OEMs to deploy and support." (Our italics).

You could kind of wonder about why it's helpful for Microsoft to have Capellas saying this kind of stuff. Basically he's telling us it's a lot easier for him if the apps and the OS are tightly integrated, from a single vendor, so he's saying that if the law didn't do anything about it, Compaq would happily aid and abet Microsoft in turning the OS monopoly and the apps near-monopoly into one, giant, integrated monopoly.

Capellas' enthusiasm for this level of integration and his equal enthusiasm for integrated IE and DirectX ("Allowing OEMs to remove components of Windows (such as Interet Explorer and DirectX) would destroy the integrity of Windows as a development platform") is a puzzle, considering. Last year at a strategic moment in the trial, Compaq started offering machines with Netscape Navigator on board, and this was extremely helpful to Microsoft's case (see link below). But as a reality check we just checked out Compaq online, and although it may still be possible to buy Compaq machines with Navigator, we haven't figured out how. Very difficult not to buy bundled MS apps though.

But Mike's helpful in other areas too, helping himself along the way. "There is no reason why Compaq should not receive more resources from Microsoft, given our greater investment in testing, distributing and promoting Microsoft's technology" (again, it's not clear why this is helpful stuff). "Forcing Microsoft to disclose technical information simultaneously to everyone in the computer industry would prevent the sort of cooperative development efforts that have led to important innovations like Plug-and-Play."

So it's easier for OEMs to go the Microsoft way, and it's helpful for the big OEMs to get discounts in exchange for favours, and to come to confidential arrangements whereby they get an early run in co-op technology development deals. The Capellas bottom line: if you need to control Microsoft, you can't rely on Compaq to help.

Katzenberg of DreamWorks meanwhile says: "As a major producer of animated films, much of DreamWorks' business is therefore dependent on the use of software." And as we all know what kind of gear you use in film production, we can see he's on dangerous ground here. DreamWorks uses "Microsoft client operating systems, server operating systems and applications." It also uses "servers and workstations produced by a variety of vendors." But he doesn't say which ones, or precisely what the company uses the MS gear for. Film production? We think not.

A quick Netcraft however reveals that DreamWorks.com is running Apache on Linux. So we're obviously not using the MS servers for that.

Tony Nicely, chairman of auto insurance giant GEICO, is if anything an even more bizarre witness. "GEICO would be adversely affected if anything slowed the release of new and improved versions of [Microsoft] products." We at The Register receive a steady stream of mail from MIS managers complaining about the speed of the MS upgrade escalator, so we're stunned to find a top-level exec (albeit only the chairman) who takes the contrary view. ®

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