Microsoft: It's all a conspiracy against us

Attorney John Warden strikes back at the DOJ's antitrust case as one of pure collusion with Microsoft's corporate enemies.

Microsoft on Tuesday systematically denied every accusation levelled against it by the Department of Justice in final arguments in the landmark antitrust case before Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson.

Earlier in the day US attorneys had made their final arguments against the software giant, insisting it is a monopoly and demanding its breakup.

Microsoft lead attorney John Warden bluntly struck back at the DOJ's case as one of pure collusion with Microsoft's corporate enemies. "The case was meritless when brought and it remains meritless," Warden said. "This case was not brought to protect consumers. It was brought to protect huge companies from the rigors of competition."

Warden sought to paint a picture of a cabal, including Sun Microsystems, Netscape and IBM all joining forces "for a coordinated attack on Microsoft".

The Microsoft lawyer heartily denied that there was any specific tying of the Internet Explorer browser to the company's Windows operating system for the purpose of eroding Netscape's then-dominant market share. Rather, he said, Microsoft often bundled extra capabilities into the operating system to give users a better experience.

Following previously filed statements, Warden argued that Microsoft had plans to field a free Web browser in 1994, well before Netscape incorporated and played deposition footage of then-Netscape CEO Jim Clark admitting he knew about Microsoft's plans the same year.

The Microsoft lawyer tried to blunt Justice's central assertion that Microsoft holds an operating system monopoly. He invoked high developer interest in Java and Macintosh, two smaller and more specialised operating systems. Further, Warden emphasised Microsoft's heavy investment in research and development as further proof that the company is not acting like a monopolist. "Windows is not protected by an insuperable barrier to entry," he said.

The lawyer dismissed Justice's accusation that Microsoft effectively foreclosed Netscape from key avenues of distribution as "pure baloney", and showed Goldman Sachs data showing Netscape use will grow 21 percent by 2005.

Warden made a special effort to discredit DOJ's assessment of a pivotal 21 June, 1995, meeting between Netscape top brass and Microsoft representatives in which Justice alleges a browser market division deal was proposed by Microsoft. Much of the evidence is from notes taken by Marc Andreessen. "Those notes have been cooked in some fashion. They were created for the purpose of ginning up a complaint against Microsoft," Warden said.

Warden closed by reiterating that no consumer has ever been hurt by Microsoft's aggressive business tactics and that the company "should be lauded for its success."

Robert Lande, antitrust expert and professor of law at the University of Baltimore School of Law, felt Microsoft's final summation started strong, but later degenerated into name-calling. Particularly weak was the company's assertion that it does not hold an operating system monopoly when it currently controls 95 percent of the PC operating system market, Lande said.

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