22nd November 1998 Archive
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What can we tell you? The man seems to have an interestingly weird perspective
Last week as Bill Gates' video testimony was taking centre stage, Microsoft mounted something of a counter-attack via Associated Press, which seems to have been given telephone access to Gates and to his views on Comdex, the antitrust case, the universe and everything. A golden opportunity for AP, naturally, and a good opportunity for Microsoft to get a picture of a hurt and wronged Gates around the world. So shall we just take a look at what he had to say? Gates claims that the DoJ is simply using his video deposition for PR. He's been set-up, it appears, because there's that David Boies (DoJ attorney) putting words in his mouth, and failing to ask "very clear questions." Gates rejects the entire idea of his having to give video testimony, saying that the government could have called him as a witness if it wanted to, but it chose not to. Neither the government nor Microsoft has called Gates as a witness. The DoJ in fact opened the case by drawing Microsoft's failure to call Gates to the court's attention. So here we have Gates trying to turn that one back on the DoJ. But each side is limited to 12 witnesses, and as the video transcripts (Look for them in here) show, the DoJ trying to use Gates as a prosecution witness might not be particularly fruitful. Then there's the memory thing. Gates' case (and indeed the one Microsoft has been corporately pushing for some time now) is that he gets "thousands and thousands of emails," and can't be expected to remember receiving all of them. Possibly somewhat stung by the general eye-rolling over his apparently spectacular recall failure, Gates insists: Believe me, I have a very, very good memory." Given the seriously low hit-rate his memory has over the documents produced so far in his videos, the DoJ must have been exceedingly unlucky in its choice of what to ask him about. But he also seems to have recall problems over what's happened in the last couple of weeks. "There's no email from me that really comes up," he says, whereas the first video shown had him being shown a couple of documents that he had indeed written (see below). Gates however claims that the mail consists of stuff from subordinates to him, and that the DoJ is just focusing on the language used rather than what these people are really trying to do. Which apparently is make software better and lower prices (at least that's the best translation we can manage of: "This is supposed to be about consumers, have consumers got lower priced software."). So when somebody from Microsoft says "cut off Netscape's air supply" or "how much to screw Netscape," or "knife the baby," we should understand that they're really talking about benefiting the consumers, right? Gates goes on with his interesting version of what happened in the depositions: "I answered every question, completely, truthfully through many, many long days." But the DoJ is just taking snippets out of context. For example, there's the first video shown, where [Boies] asked me about whether I saw an article in the Wall Street Journal, and I say, 'Yes, I did.' And then he asked me about the complaint, and wasn't the same thing in the complaint? He seemed to be implying that the complaint came before the article, and it didn't. The Journal article comes well before the complaint. He holds that up as though there's something strange about, well, didn't I do something at the time of the complaint? Well, I had already done it at the time of the article, in asking people to look into it and make sure there was absolutely no truth to those allegations." An intriguing ramble this, but we should look at what really happened. (Earlier Story) In the video Gates was shown denying he was involved in any proposal to carve-up the browser market with Netscape, and saying that he hadn't responded to an employee question about investing in Netscape. Then he was shown a document he'd written that said: "I think there is a very powerful deal of some kind that we can do with Netscape [in the browser market] I would really like something like that happen." And then another one that said: "We could also give [Netscape] money as part of the deal, buy a piece of them or something." The Journal surfaced during this part of the questioning because Gates was being hazy about his knowledge of the allegations of a carve-up plan. "I think somebody said that is in there [i.e. he heard it was in the DoJ complaint]," he said, and also that he'd read about it in the Journal. Basically, Gates was saying there was no such scheme to his knowledge, and that he hadn't been involved in any negotiations or planning, whereas his own documents suggested otherwise. ® Complete Register trial coverage
Business 22 17:54