A Year Ago: We were here before Netscape

First published: Thu, 06 Aug 1998 17:11:50 GMT

Microsoft will reply to the US Government's anti-trust suit by arguing that the company's Internet plans were well under way before Netscape rose to challenge them, the New York Times reported on Thursday.

The Justice Department contends that Microsoft's aggressive tactics in the Internet software business were intended to protect and expand its monopoly by crushing Netscape. But in the reply to the suit, which must be filed in federal court no later than Monday, Microsoft will argue that conversations at a 1994 retreat, as well as other Microsoft discussions and documents dating to late 1993, show the company's Internet plans were under way before before Netscape was founded, the newspaper reported.

The Times said Microsoft would acknowledge its tactics did eventually hurt Netscape, but argues that was a byproduct of its plan to improve its products and benefit consumers, the newspaper said.

A senior Justice Department official told the newspaper this week that evidence in the government's case shows a pattern of anti-competitive behaviour by a company that was "simply hellbent on driving a competitor out of the market." Microsoft's defence, he said, is a "grand exercise in revisionist history."

The New York Times said interviews with current and former Microsoft executives and business partners, plus internal documents from 1993 and 1994, suggest the company will at least be able to cast doubt on the government's evidence of intent.