MS/DoJ: DoJ's witness attacks Windows pricing

The US Government returned to a back-to-basics strategy in the Microsoft antitrust case, attacking Windows operating system pricing while reinforcing its argument that competition in the operating system market is impossible.

The government's opportunity to examine some of the core reasons behind its antitrust lawsuit came at the end yesterday of Microsoft's cross-examination of government witness Frederick Warren-Boulton.

The economist will be followed by James Gosling, vice president of Sun Microsystems, who is now expected to take the witness stand today.

Warren-Boulton, who seemed a little worn-out after four days of cross-examination, was given the opportunity during the government's redirect to outline the reasons why the software giant is a monopoly.

"Microsoft can raise the price of its operating system without much concern of falloff" by personal computer manufacturers, said Warren-Boulton.

Pointing to an analysis of operating system pricing conducted by Microsoft, Warren-Boulton said that from 1990 to 1996, the operating system's share of the total computer system's cost increased from 0.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent, a five-fold increase, he said. In the past two years, that share has increased to 5 per cent.

Warren-Boulton pointed to those increases as evidence of Microsoft's growing monopoly power, but Microsoft spokesman Mark Murray said, during a break, that the government was "essentially lying with statistics".

"Microsoft operating system share is still a very small part of the personal computer price," said Murray.

He contrasted that with Intel's microprocessor prices as a share of the total cost of a personal computer, which increased from 3.1 per cent in 1990 to 11.8 per cent by 1996, said Murray, citing statistics from the same Microsoft study.

Murray also said it wasn't fair to compare the cost of developing hardware to an operating system.

"How much innovation has occurred in a keyboard over the past eight years?" said Murray.

Operating system cost aside, Warren-Boulton said the barriers for potential rival operating systems makers "are simply enormous", because of inability to woo application developers. Microsoft has also used its operating system strength to block competitors, he said.

The government has argued throughout the trial, that Microsoft feared Netscape's browser because it was a potential vehicle for the development of a new operating system.

In its questioning of Warren-Boulton, the government played an excerpt of the deposition of James Allchin, Microsoft's senior vice president of personal and business systems, in which he described the threat posed by Netscape. "As far as I'm concerned they were a complete competitor to the operating system," he said. Allchin is on Microsoft's list of witnesses.

Before Microsoft finished with its cross-examination of Warren-Boulton, Microsoft attorney Michael Lacovara asked him if the America Online acquisition of Netscape would increase competition in the browser market.

"I wouldn't bet on it if I were a betting man,'' said Warren-Boulton.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?