Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates to take the stand in Novell-Microsoft trial

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates to take the stand in Novell-Microsoft trial

Summary: Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates may take the stand this week in an ongoing Novell vs. Microsoft antitrust case involving events that happened in the mid-1990s. Yawn.

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This week, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates is slated to take the stand as a witness for Microsoft in the ongoing Novell Microsoft antitrust trial.

Yawn.

The reason I haven't been glued to the proceedings this time around -- as opposed to when I was covering over a decade ago the U.S. Department of Justice vs. Microsoft antitrust trial?  It's ancient history. Novell may or may not get money, depending on the ultimate ruling, but will any policies or products change as a result? No.

This is a trial about events that occurred in the mid-1990s when Microsoft was developing Windows 95. It centers around WordPerfect -- a product Novell sold to Corel 12 years ago. Novell itself was purchased recently by Attachmate.

What's the back story behind Novell's beef? In 2004, Novell settled one potential antitrust suit with Microsoft involving NetWare for $536 million. But Novell refused to settle with Microsoft over antitrust claims around its WordPerfect and Quattro Pro products at that time.

Novell claimed Microsoft withheld interoperability information it needed to enable those products to run well on Windows. Microsoft tried to get Novell’s complaint dismissed, claiming that it was Novell’s “own mismanagement and poor business decisions” that tanked WordPerfect and Quattro Pro. Plus, Microsoft argued, since Novell sold WordPerfect to Corel over a decade ago, their claims should be barred under the Statute of Limitations.

The majority of Novell’s claims in this matter had previously been dismissed. A federal appeals court judge agreed earlier this year to allow the remaining unsettled claims to proceed.

As reported last week by The Salt Lake Tribune:

"An email Gates wrote in October 1994, 11 months before the launch of Windows 95, is at the heart of Novell’s case. In it, Gates, who was CEO at the time, decided to not include several software code features in Windows 95, the highly successful personal computer operating system released in August 1995."

I am one who believes Microsoft officials engaged in a number of practices that abused the company's monopoly power in the 1990s. But Microsoft already has been on trial for those activities and was required to adjust some of its policies as a result. Whether or not one believes the company was judged justly, the industry has moved on at a rapid pace since then.

Novell is claiming it lost $1 billion because of Microsoft's alleged anticompetitive actions and is said to be seeking tens of millions of dollars in damages from Microsoft. The Novell-Microsoft trial, which has been going on for three-plus weeks, is at its projected half-way mark.

Topics: Microsoft, Enterprise Software, Open Source, Operating Systems, Security, Software, Windows

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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89 comments
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  • RE: Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates to take the stand in Novell-Microsoft trial

    As soon as he thought it was safe.
    Return_of_the_jedi
    • Safe to lie again???

      Willy Gates is going to do the same thing he did last time... Play stupid and lie his arse off, sticking to his "Um, I don't recall" statements... Not even sure why they would bother calling him back to the stand... For someone with a documented history of having an incredible memory, he is somehow able to BS the courts with blatent lies... I just don't get it.
      i8thecat4
  • Then where's Microsoft Office for the iPad?

    You can rest assured that if the DOJ had split Microsoft into both an operating system company and an application company it would already be in Apple's iPad App Store.<br><br>The DOJ's disposition of the Microsoft antitrust case was grossly incomplete. And the Novell-Microsoft trial currently underway over WordPerfect and Quattro Pro is a reminder of this. As with the Windows operating system on the desktop, the office suite market is still owned by Microsoft.
    Rabid Howler Monkey
    • RE: Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates to take the stand in Novell-Microsoft trial

      @Rabid Howler Monkey

      Not really. More and more people are switching to Open/LibreOffice as time goes on. I personally switched to it about 2 years ago when it was still called OpenOffice, then switched to LibreOffice when the spat between the developers came up and another one was passed off.
      Lerianis10
      • RE: Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates to take the stand in Novell-Microsoft trial

        @Lerianis10 I am a FLOSS advocate, but I am not delusional to think that MS does not own the office suite market. For every new OO user, there are many more new MS Office users.

        I have been around long enough to be convinced that MS anticompetitive practices lead to that advantage.
        rarsa
      • Oh yeah, Libre is taking the market by storm

        @Lerianis10

        Maybe Google Docs can get some significant market share, but Libre....Im still laughing.
        otaddy
      • RE: Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates to take the stand in Novell-Microsoft trial

        @Lerianis10
        I.m 61, and in my 4'th month of an online college.
        I need a dependable stable office suite.
        I tried open office, it was very difficult and counter-intuitive to operate.
        Then I read about Libre Office, uninstalled open office to try Libreoffice.
        The attempted install told me that I didn't have enough hard drivespace. I only have 1.5 TB free.
        I went downtown and bought Office 10.
        I've never been happier.
        JK
        inkwell
      • RE: Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates to take the stand in Novell-Microsoft trial

        @Lerianis10 <br>Libre Office is OK, but have you seen softmaker Office? Better filters, and yes I know that it is not free, but their previous version, softmaker 2008, is free! There is a modest fee for the current version, but if you are cheap or lucre deprived as I am, the previous version, which shall always be free, is quite good.
        richdave
    • RE: Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates to take the stand in Novell-Microsoft trial

      @Rabid Howler Monkey

      And when will the DOJ split Apple into hardware and software companies? Splitting up Microsoft would have created two monopolies, not broken one up.
      guyonearth
      • RE: Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates to take the stand in Novell-Microsoft trial

        @guyonearth No it wouldn't have, at least if it was split into OS, software and consumer/mobile/other. Software bundling, the ability to include "undocumented features" in the OS that their own software then took advantage of, and lots of other practices that were documented in the trial would have become impossible under such an arrangement. The OS monopoly profits wouldn't have been able to float other losing ventures, etc.
        jgm2
    • RE: Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates to take the stand in Novell-Microsoft trial

      @Rabid Howler Monkey
      Your first mistake was getting an iPad, your second mistake is thinking that Microsoft would allow its direct os rival to have the best business productivity suite around. Your solution would be to get a WP7.5, use windows, and sell your stocks of apple, cuz they're gonna be dead and/or irrelevant in less than 2 years without the product repackaging king Steve jobs around!
      simianthe liver
      • RE: Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates to take the stand in Novell-Microsoft trial

        @simianthe liver

        Wow, way to miss the point. Just... wow.
        .DeusExMachina.
    • RE: Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates to take the stand in Novell-Microsoft trial

      @Rabid Howler Monkey
      Yes, the Office suite market is owned by Microsoft and the iTunes market is owned by Apple. Fairs fair?
      Plus, the iPad is not well suited to a full Office suite. Aside from the limited screen space, limited memory, restricted storage, restrictive App controls and poor cpu there is the little issue of NO ARM PORT existing yet. Your point if there was one is completely moot.....
      12312332123
  • Mary Jo, are you tired? Not getting much sleep?

    I guess you've colored this story the way you want the readership to view it. Yes?

    Based on what I am seeing (Microsoft vs B&N), the New Microsoft is just the same Old Microsoft.

    Only this time around, they are getting charged with:

    Extortion

    Folks if you really want to have a set of facts on what is or isn't happening, stop by Groklaw.net.

    They specialize there on legal matters, unlike ZDNet.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
    • Groklaw is not an unbiased site

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz * Your Linux Advocate
      From Groklaw:
      "First, it's a journalistic enterprise, with interviews, research, and reporting of legal events important to the FOSS community"

      No, it isn't a journalistic enterprise because they admit to only wanting to defend FOSS.
      "we can contribute to the defense of Linux, the kernel, and Free and Open Source Software (FOSS)."

      Groklaw is the IT equivalent to the Iraqi Ministry of Truth.

      Groklaw is not a good source of news. It is a good source of FUD. Some of it will happen to be true but it will always be presented with a pro-FOSS and it will always leave out pieces of information that are relevant if they do not contribute to "the defense of Linux, the kernel, and Free and Open Source Software (FOSS)."

      So no, Groklaw is not a good place to get a set of facts on what is or isn't happening.
      toddybottom
      • And zdnet is?

        I hope that's not what you're implying.
        ego.sum.stig
      • Never said or implied that

        ZDNet is a blogging platform and some of the bloggers (like SJVN) are heavily biased. So no, ZDNet is not a good source of news. It is a good source of current events which can then be followed up on by looking at news sites. Groklaw too is a blogging platform however it is even worse than ZDNet because Groklaw will not allow anything to be posted that does not contribute to the defense of Linux or FOSS. It is right there in the "About Groklaw" page.
        toddybottom
      • RE: Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates to take the stand in Novell-Microsoft trial

        @ego.sum.stig.. <br><br>Don't pay him any attention. He is like a cockroach that after you step on it, it gets up and walk away. And you will see him again.
        Return_of_the_jedi
      • RE: Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates to take the stand in Novell-Microsoft trial

        @toddybottom

        During the SCO trial, Groklaw was THE source for unbiased information. You could see copies of the court transcripts there and nowhere else. Saying it is not a good place to get facts is like saying Iowa is no place to get corn.
        benched42
      • Medianese

        @toddybottom
        I've solved the problem of the anti-MS bias on Groklaw by reading your notes here on ZDNet. I add their bias to your bias, divide by two, and so approximate the truth.
        Robert Hahn