MS rebuttal exec deletes his email every two months
But under the circumstances, this could get Engstrom into serious trouble
MS on Trial When not cruising on his Harley and "enjoying world travel adventures" [that's how Microsoft PR puts it], self-taught programmer Eric Engstrom is currently trying to make a success of MSN (again), after an earlier career as Microsoft's games man and DirectX developer. Engstrom was one of the architects of DirectX, but it was six weeks too late for Windows 95, so it had to ship along with games, ostensibly its main raison d'etre anyway. Note however that widespread distribution of DirectX with games furthers Microsoft's campaign to disseminate its own multimedia standards greatly. DirectX is one of the latest instances of Microsoft being able to use muscle to force Redmond standards onto the world. Engstrom said "it ended up being the most successful API we ever shipped." To the surprise of court watchers in the Washington trial, Engstrom turned out to be Microsoft's straight man. He was a little more forthcoming than previous Microsoft witnesses, and avoided any amateur debate on semantics. He did not even claim the usual Microsoft quota of memory lapses. Originally, Microsoft had planned to use Thomas Reardon, Microsoft's program manager, interactive media group, as a witness, but when the DoJ said that Avie Tevanian of Apple would be called, Microsoft asked that Engstrom could be substituted. In his direct testimony, crafted by Microsoft lawyers, Engstrom was in denial: Microsoft hadn't sabotaged QuickTime, or "knifed the baby", nor told Compaq not to distribute QuickTime. Of course. But there was no denial that Microsoft had been caught with key parts of QuickTime code in its software, and had had to pay the price. Engstrom was put up by Microsoft principally to answer allegations by Tevanian that Microsoft sought to carve up the market for software relating to the creation, display, and playback of multimedia content; and had taken steps to impede usage of Apple's QuickTime software (or more simply, sabotaged QuickTime). Engstrom claimed in his lawyer-guided direct testimony there was a mischaracterisation of proposals made by Microsoft to Apple. He also was pressed on the relationship with Intel, and the acquisition of DimensionX. Phillip Malone of the DoJ San Francisco office and essentially the DoJ Microsoft case officer, conducted the cross-examination. He lacked Boies' exquisite style of trapping a witness by contrasting answers to questions with the witness' own email, but perhaps that was because Engstrom was in the habit of deleting his emails from his laptop after two months, or so he claimed. "What I do is I delete mail that is two months old on a regular basis because I work on a hard disk on a laptop. The machine is fairly old, the reason for that being I tend to test the software my group is producing, and I like to make sure that it runs on what a customer's machine is typically to be." It's a good story, but the destruction of records in this way when the company is operating under a consent decree, or being investigated during a new case is both unwise and potentially a criminal act. ® Complete Register trial coverage
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