Gates prepares return to witness stand

Gates prepares return to witness stand

Summary: Some 13 years ago, a feisty, often condescending Bill Gates became the public face of a beleaguered Microsoft accused of breaking antitrust law.

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Bill Gates testifying during his deposition on August 27, 1998 (Credit: Wikipedia)

The old adage about experience being a teacher is about to be put to the test. Some 13 years ago, a feisty, often condescending Bill Gates became the public face of a beleaguered Microsoft accused of breaking antitrust law.

Now an older — and presumably wiser — Gates will soon head to the witness stand in a new antitrust case where he will be expected to put on a better show when he takes the oath to testify.

The dispute centers around Novell's claim that it was the target of anti-competitive practices by Microsoft. Jury selection began on Monday in Salt Lake City, where the trial will be held. Gates is scheduled as one of the people who will testify.

These two companies shared a furious rivalry in the early 1990s when Novell, the one-time leader in the network operating system world, fell behind a hard-charging Microsoft. Novell, which also owned WordPerfect, similarly lost its lead in the software office applications business to Microsoft.

The opposing lawyers will battle mightily over whether this was the result of fair competition or Microsoft again stepping over the line. No doubt Novell will point to the questionable business tactics that were publicized during the famous antitrust lawsuit brought in 1998 when the US Justice Department and the attorneys general of 20 US states accused Microsoft of breaking the law.

Microsoft, which denied all the allegations, found itself on the PR defensive once the trial began. The prosecution played a series of explosive videotaped exchanges between Gates and the DOJ's lead attorney David Boies in which Microsoft's one-time CEO did neither himself nor his company any favors.

During the interviews, Gates repeatedly came off as peevish and seemingly bent on being obfuscating. At the time, Businessweek wrote that Gates so often responded to questions from Boies with an "I don't recall'" that even the presiding judge, Thomas Penfield Jackson, began to laugh.

Microsoft was ultimately found to have acted like a predatory monopolist. Even though an appellate court overturned many of the judge's harshest proposed remedies — which included breaking up the company into separate units — Microsoft has never again asserted the sort of dominance it once enjoyed. Faster-moving internet companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter have grown to exploit the changes affecting the technology world. Novell's case

Novell has singled out a Microsoft email from 1994 as helping its case. The email quotes Gates telling company developers to "wait until we have a way to do a high level of integration that will be harder for [the] likes of Notes, WordPerfect to achieve, and which will give Office a real advantage", adding that "it did not come up in any competitive sense".

In a subsequent deposition, Gates said the issue was not about shutting out competitors but about fostering innovation. "The decision I was making in this memo is about: Is this an important thing? And I'm saying it's not," Gates said.

Microsoft responded by accusing Novell of looking for a scapegoat. "The law basically doesn't require people to design their products to the whim or demand of other companies. You get to design your own products," Microsoft attorney Steve Aeschbacher told the Deseret News. "There isn't any legal obligation for us to do what they wanted us to do."

A lot is riding on the outcome: Novell is demanding up to $1.2 billion in damages. Attachmate Group bought Novell in April for $2.2 billion.

Topics: Open Source, Enterprise Software, Microsoft, Security, Software

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  • RE: Gates prepares return to witness stand

    http://ygn.me/zuq9S ........
    jsdfgh
  • There are a lot of parallels here with MS and Apple

    Have there always been inferior word processors? Yes, just like there are a ton of inferior smartphones, MP3 players, and tablets. No monopoly there.

    "The law basically doesn't require people to design their products to the whim or demand of other companies. You get to design your own products"

    Apple doesn't need to let anyone into their iTunes ecosystem. The thought of demanding that Apple open up iTunes / iTMS access to others would infuriate many Apple fans.

    "wait until we have a way to do a high level of integration that will be harder for [the] likes of Notes, WordPerfect to achieve, and which will give Office a real advantage"

    Apple has done a fantastic job of leveraging their iTunes ecosystem to jump from iPods to iPhones to iPads. No one can compete because of this integration that gives Apple a real advantage.

    Ultimately, the court will have to decide once again whether low quality alternatives "count" and whether building an ecosystem to give your products an advantage is something we want to encourage or discourage.

    Then the law should be applied fairly and evenly.
    toddybottom
    • RE: Gates prepares return to witness stand

      @toddybottom <br>There is no evidence I am aware of that suggests that iTunes is a monopoly like Windows was/is. In fact most people who I've talked to use iTunes due to Apple devices rather than the other way around. As iTunes is only compatible with Apple devices, it's hard to show how it could be a monopoly as Apple devices themselves aren't monopolies. Thus Apple is no more required to allow compatibility to non-Apple devices than MS is required to allow Zune to non-MS devices.<br><br>Xbox live probably has a bigger market share in its respective market than iTunes; but I'm estimating here.<br><br>The laws are pretty clear. As long as you don't have a monopoly, you are free to compete as you see fit. If you have a monopoly then you are required to not use it to gain dominance in other sectors. As long as the law is followed, it is applied fairly and evenly.

      "No one can compete" We will see once Google/MS decide to use their cash hoard (around $40 billion) to try and build an advantage of their own. They should be able to with $40 billion, but to make money you have to spend money. Holding it in the bank isn't going to cut it. Of course the same can be said for Apple and I would strongly encourage them to invest in the enterprise to try and break Microsoft's dominance.
      anono
      • RE: Gates prepares return to witness stand

        @anono
        Ultimately, the court will have to decide once again whether low quality alternatives "count" and whether building an ecosystem to give your products an advantage is something we want to encourage or discourage.

        Then the law should be applied fairly and evenly.
        toddybottom
      • RE: Gates prepares return to witness stand

        @toddybottom<br>If the law is applied fairly and evenly then there's nothing for the court to decide. MS was allowed to use it's Windows ecosystem to give itself an advantage (and Windows was a monopoly, not simply dominant) so the same has to be allowed for Apple. Otherwise, all Windows code should be required to be written for Macs & Linux to negate the ecosystem advantage.

        Despite the disadvantageous though, Apple still successfully competes in the PC market. They don't hire a troll on Zdnet to complain about how they have no shot at competing .
        anono
      • Excellent quote from you

        @anono <br>"Otherwise, all Windows code should be required to be written for Macs & Linux to negate the ecosystem advantage."<br><br>This happened.<br><a href="http://news.cnet.com/8301-13580_3-9836784-39.html" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://news.cnet.com/8301-13580_3-9836784-39.html</a><br><br>Like I said, there have always been low quality alternatives to Windows (Linux, Mac OS, OS X) and Word (Open Office, Pages, Word Perfect, etc) just like there are low quality alternatives to iPods, iPhones, and iPads.<br><br>Ultimately, the court will have to decide once again whether low quality alternatives "count" and whether building an ecosystem to give your products an advantage is something we want to encourage or discourage.<br><br>Then the law should be applied fairly and evenly.
        toddybottom
      • Another excellent quote from you

        @anono
        "Apple still successfully competes in the PC market"

        But I thought Windows was a monopoly.

        There have always been low quality alternatives to Windows. Mac OS is one of those low quality alternatives.

        Ultimately, the court will have to decide once again whether low quality alternatives "count" and whether building an ecosystem to give your products an advantage is something we want to encourage or discourage.

        Then the law should be applied fairly and evenly.
        toddybottom
      • RE: Gates prepares return to witness stand

        @toddybottom<br>I didn't even bother finishing the article because it's very obvious that it didn't happen. If you are really suggesting that all Windows code was written for Macs & Linux then how do I get MS Office for Linux. If i can't then due to ecosystem disadvantages, I can't use Linux if I need MS Office.
        anono
      • An interesting case for you to follow

        @anono
        http://losangeles-businessattorney.com/apple-ceo-steve-jobs-to-be-deposed-in-california-anti-trust-lawsuit/

        This case started in 2008, had one of the original complaints dismissed but the judge found that there was enough evidence to allow the monopoly portion of the complaint to continue.

        In 2011, Steve Jobs was asked to appear in court to defend Apple's predatory monopolistic behavior in regards to RealNetworks. Apple managed to delay that from happening just long enough.

        Ultimately, the court will have to decide once again whether low quality alternatives "count" and whether building an ecosystem to give your products an advantage is something we want to encourage or discourage.

        Then the law should be applied fairly and evenly.
        toddybottom
      • Then you do yourself a disservice

        @anono
        "I didn't even bother finishing the article"

        Well then you only prove your own ignorance and unwillingness to educate yourself.

        What a shame.
        toddybottom
      • RE: Gates prepares return to witness stand

        @anono <br>Where I live, it's innocent until proven guilty. It's a non-story until we have a ruling form the judge. Ultimately the ruling whether iTunes is a monopoly or not dependent on whether or not Jobs lived to give his testimony.

        Once again, the courts have allowed MS to not write Office for Linux thus handing it an ecosystem disadvantage.

        Then the law should be applied fairly and evenly.
        anono
      • RE: Gates prepares return to witness stand

        @anono
        "because it's very obvious that it didn't happen. If you are really suggesting that all Windows code was written for Macs & Linux then how do I get MS Office for Linux. If i can't then due to ecosystem disadvantages, I can't use Linux if I need MS Office."

        And you didn't reply to the rest of my comment. Well then you only prove your own ignorance and unwillingness to educate yourself.

        What a shame.
        anono
      • RE: Gates prepares return to witness stand

        @anono <br>"Apple still successfully competes in the PC market"<br><br>But I thought Windows was a monopoly.<br><br><br><br>That's the court's ruling not mine. I am saying Apple is succeeding due to profits. Also, while Apple is very competitive in the high end market (the only market in which it competes), the low end market is pretty much MS only. Maybe that's why the courts ruled them a monopoly.
        anono
      • Apple is very competitive at the high end?

        @anono
        When Apple owns 91% of the high end PC market, that is very competitive.

        When MS owns 90% of the low end PC market, that is monopoly.

        Ultimately, the court will have to decide once again whether low quality alternatives "count" and whether building an ecosystem to give your products an advantage is something we want to encourage or discourage.

        Then the law should be applied fairly and evenly.
        toddybottom
      • RE: Gates prepares return to witness stand

        @toddybottom<br>A monopoly is when you have no other alternatives. A regular customer could purchase a high-end Windows Laptop, but not a Low end non-Windows Laptop. The 91% share you are referring to is one study and that alone can hardly be considered decisive evidence. Anyways, I don't expect you to be swayed by my arguments. So I'll remind you once again that MS was a convicted monopolist and Apple was not.

        Also, Windows doesn't control 90% of the low end market. That's probably their total market share. If I had to guess they own 99% of the low end market share. Again, you can refer to the court ruling for more details if you like.
        anono
      • RE: Gates prepares return to witness stand

        @anono <br>Also, you conclude that OSX is a low quality alternative yet go on to say they have 91% of the high end market. If your one study that you have to back this is in fact correct then we know what the low quality alternative is.

        Let me remind you again, the courts have decided.
        anono
      • RE: Gates prepares return to witness stand

        Ultimately, the court will have to decide once again whether low quality alternatives "count" and whether building an ecosystem to give your products an advantage is something we want to encourage or discourage.

        Then the law should be applied fairly and evenly.
        toddybottom
      • RE: Gates prepares return to witness stand

        @toddybottom<br>Ultimately, the court will have to decide once again whether low quality alternatives "count" and whether MS building an ecosystem to give their products an advantage is something we want to encourage or discourage.<br><br>Then the law should be applied fairly and evenly.
        anono
      • RE: Gates prepares return to witness stand

        @anono

        You have to remember that in the "high-end PC market" - Apple may have the highest percentage of prebuilt computers, but then it's really competing not so much with companies like HP, Dell, etc, whose high-end PCs are really only used in business scenarios (dual and quad-socket workstations, etc.) as with companies such as Falcon Northwest and the boutique sellers. Of course, the smaller sellers are going to move far less volume. Most PCs used at home in that range are custom-builds, which aren't actually counted as it's hard to know exactly how much they cost.

        Other than that, the Apple tax allows Apple to claim that more of their range is high-end, without the high-end specs that similarly-priced PCs have.
        spacespeed
      • RE: Gates prepares return to witness stand

        @spacespeed
        So you are in agreement that Apple's supposed monopoly that toddybottom is trying to imply is BS. Spec for spec you can definitely do better than a Mac. I won't get into the value debate though because it's pointless since it depends on your needs. I will say though even a lot of techies are starting to see value in Macs in recent years.
        anono