Red Hat exec back on stand at remedy hearing

If Linux is a true threat to Microsoft's desktop Windows monopoly, then Red Hat's chief technical officer, Michael Tiemann, is one the nonsettling states' most important witness.

Tiemann returned to the witness stand today in the Microsoft antitrust trial's remedy phase. He was there to make the case for porting Microsoft's Office suite to other operating systems such as Linux, explain the need for mandatory distribution of a compliant version of Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Java, and justify the call that Internet Explorer code be made open source.

Porting Office to Linux would make that operating system attractive to enterprise customers, Tiemann said.

"Office is the albatross around Red Hat's neck," Tiemann wrote in his prepared testimony. "The first question that prospective customers ask when I approach them about switching to Linux is whether they could still run Office if they made the switch."

Tiemann reiterated that position on the witness stand today, saying Office for Linux would do a "tremendous" amount to expand Linux's desktop adoption. Red Hat Linux has about 2 percent desktop market share, he said.

But Microsoft attorney Stephanie G. Wheeler attacked Tiemann's assertions from a number of directions, arguing through her questions that the success of vendors of operating systems is linked to their investment in research and development in applications.

Citing financial filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Wheeler pointed out that Apple Computer Inc. spent US$431 million on research and development in fiscal year 2001, Sun spent more than $2 billion and Microsoft spent $4.3 billion. Red Hat spent $18.8 million last year, she pointed out.

Tiemann said Red Hat relies on third parties to develop applications that run on Linux. The witness and attorney sparred over whether Sun's Office product, StarOffice, is interoperable with Microsoft's Office. Wheeler cited material from Sun's Web site promising interoperability, but Tiemann argued that "the fact that they [Sun] promise that doesn't make it true."

Under the state's remedy proposal, Microsoft would be required to auction Office licenses to independent software developers to create versions of Microsoft Office that would run on operating systems other than Windows.

"The porting of Office holds the potential to jump-start some notion of competition in the desktop operating system market," wrote Tiemann.

Tiemann said he's "fairly certain" that Red Hat would bid on one of these licenses to port Office to Linux.

During the antitrust trial that began in October 1998, Microsoft attorneys pushed to convince Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson that Linux was a threat. Since then, Linux has done well in the server market, but it has made no headway in denting Microsoft's desktop monopoly because PC makers won't install it, said Tiemann.

Tiemann's written testimony doesn't offer concrete proof that fear of Microsoft is keeping PC makers from selling Linux desktop machines. Representatives of those companies "rarely will articulate that fear of retaliation from Microsoft," wrote Tiemann. That fear is left unspoken but " is often conveyed -- like the 'skunk' in the room or the low-hanging black cloud."

But the states may have some evidence. States' attorney Brendan Sullivan, in his opening statement, said the states have evidence about Microsoft's concern about Dell Computer Corp.'s desktop Linux offering.

Tiemann is expected to be followed on the stand later today by Gateway Inc. counsel Anthony Fama, who will argue that Microsoft's new uniform contract licensing terms would increase the software giant's leverage over Gateway.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Patrick Thibodeau

Show Comments

Cool Tech

D-Link TAIPAN AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Modem Router (DSL-4320L)

Learn more >

Xiro Drone Xplorer V -3 Axis Gimbal & 1080p Full HD 14MP Camera

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

ASUS ROG Swift PG279Q – Reign beyond virtual world

Learn more >

D-Link PowerLine AV2 2000 Gigabit Network Kit

Learn more >

Crucial® BX200 SATA 2.5” 7mm (with 9.5mm adapter) Internal Solid State Drive

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things


Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

ASUS VivoPC VM62 - Incredibly Powerful, Unbelievably Small

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Best Deals on PC World

Latest News Articles


GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell


The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi


The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott


My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.


Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?