MS/DoJ: On tape, Gates queried on IBM

The Microsoft antitrust trial is closing out the year with a US Department of Justice-sponsored deposition film festival -- leading off with its marquee star, Bill Gates.

The US Government has turned to the videotape, once again, to attack the credibility of Microsoft's chairman and CEO, and the business practices of his company.

The excerpts were used, in part, to back up the government's contention that Microsoft was willing to use its power over PC equipment manufacturers to attack competitors, in this case IBM.

The government also showed videotaped excerpts of depositions of Steve Wadsworth, vice president of Walt Disney subsidiary, the Buena Vista Internet Group, and Ron Rasmussen, a vice president of SCO, a firm that develops Unix-based desktop and server operating systems software.

Justice Department attorneys were expected to spend the next several days showing videotaped excerpts from various witnesses who were deposed prior to the trial, including John Kies, a vice president of Packard-Bell, and David Limp, of Network Computer.

Another videotape segment of Gates is expected to be shown but Justice Department attorneys are sure whether that will happen today or Thursday. The trial is expected to break Thursday for the holidays and not resume until January 4.

In the taped excerpts shown yesterday, David Boies, the lead government attorney, asked Gates about a series of memoranda written by him and other top company officials, about IBM's growing relationship with Lotus Development.

"Why does IBM help Lotus so much," wrote Gates, in a March, 1994, memorandum, in a message to some of his top executives, including Joachim Kempin, Microsoft's senior vice president for OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) sales. "Is there anything we can do about this?" he wrote.

Kempin wrote back that Microsoft needs a "WW (world wide) hit team to attack IBM as a large account, whereby the OEM relationship should be used to apply some pressure".

Boies repeatedly asked Gates whether he could recall Kempin or anyone else saying "that the OEM relationship with IBM should be used to apply some pressure" to stop IBM from promoting the sale of Notes.

Gates said, "No".

"Do you understand," asked Boies, "that Mr. Kempin is here proposing to you that Microsoft apply OEM pressure to IBM?"

"It doesn't say OEM pressure," said Gates.

Showing frustration over Gates' evasive answers, Boies repeated the question again until finally, Gates said he didn't think Kempin was proposing anything. "It is one of the things he mentions, but it's not a proposal," said Gates.

Outside of court, Boies said the memorandums and his exchange with Gates illustrated a key point in the case concerning Microsoft's power, and whether the company "has the ability to use its power to influence OEM decisions."

But Mark Murray, Microsoft's spokesman, said that the government has "not provided any evidence whatsoever that Microsoft in any way pressured IBM in regard to Lotus." Moreover, IBM ultimately purchased Lotus, he said.

The Disney witness, Wadsworth, described his company's negotiations with Microsoft for an icon on its Active Desktop. The agreement included an almost blanket prohibition keeping Disney from using Netscape Communications in anyway to promote its product.

"We are being roughed up by the 1000-pound gorilla of the industry," he said.

The government is nearing the end of its case, and the introduction of the depositions is intended to build its record. But some of the material being introduced by the government seems to have more value as entertainment then as testimony.

In one lengthy, tooth-pulling exchange between Boies and Gates, the two embarked on a dialog that did more to produce chuckles from the audience than shed light on the government's case.

It began when Gates was asked about a notation in a memorandum he wrote in August, 1997, to a number of top company executives, regarding IBM and Netscape Communications.

The memo included the note in a message header that said: "Importance. High." Asked if he typed that, Gates said "no".

"Who typed in "High," asked Boies.

"A computer," responded Gates.

"Why did the computer type in "High?" asked Boies.

"It's an attribute of the e-mail," said Gates.

"And who set the attribute of the e-mail?" asked Boies.

"Usually the sender sends that attribute," said Gates.

"Who is the sender here, Mr Gates?" said Boies.

"In this case it appears I'm the sender," said Gates.

"Yes," said Boies, "And so you're the one who set the high designation of importance, right, sir?"

"It appears that I did that," said Gates. "I don't remember doing that specifically."

"Right," said Boies. "Now, did you send this message on or about August, 15, 1997?"

"I don't remember doing so," said Gates.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?