'

IE exec defends MS on DOJ charge

A senior Microsoft Internet Explorer executive yesterday conducted a spirited defence of the firm's conduct as the Department of Justice heats up its pursuit.

Microsoft Corp. director of marketing for the application and Internet client group Yusuf Mehdi repeated what has become Microsoft's party line: that Internet Explorer is an integral part of Windows 95 and that a software developer has the right to decide what goes into its products.

"If Ford says you have to have a General Motors engine, its their decision," said Mehdi, in London yesterday.

"You need to be able to safeguard the quality of the product and be able to provide technical support. Windows 95 won't boot without the IE files. We have the right to say this product has to be shipped in its entirety. [Windows 95 without IE] is dysfunctional because the features are integrated and if you take out IE it's not going to work."

Mehdi also disputed that the OS/browser integration does much to help gain market share.

"OEM is under 10 per cent of how you get your browser. [The Web browser] is ubiquitous now, it drops from aeroplanes," he said.

Mehdi also said that the regulatory bodies have no place examining the way Microsoft develops products, saying that Microsoft is not the only game in town when it comes to system software and suggesting that regulatory bodies should be concerned with a different sphere of activity.

"Is this a health issue? Is this a threat to our children? There's no public safety problem. If it was an issue of privacy on the Net... if it was about pornography and people said you haven't done a good job about protecting people from that, I'd feel bad about it. We feel the market is plenty competitive. We have a nice competitive battle for the hearts and minds of users."

Mehdi said that despite the dispute Microsoft was happy that the DOJ was operating in good faith, and denied there is a wealth of anti-Microsoft feeling that is hurting the company.

"OEM relationships are good. The only people who are dead set against us are Netscape, Sun and Oracle. We do care about the public perception of the company and the products."