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Microsoft on Trial: Feds say Microsoft muscled PC makers

The government spent Tuesday morning in the Microsoft Corp. antitrust trial attempting to show how the software giant uses its muscle to pressure computer manufacturers.
Written by Michael Moeller, Contributor on

Government attorneys also played excerpts of Bill Gates' videotaped deposition where Microsoft's Chairman again sparred with questioners over the definitions -- at one point the exchange focused on the meaning of the term "killer application" -- and whether Microsoft tracks its market share in the operating system business.

In one exchange, the government presented a March 1994 electronic mail message sent to Gates and Microsoft president Steve Ballmer by Joachim Kempin, senior vice president of the OEM sales and marketing group, regarding IBM's support of Lotus Development Corp.

Kempin's e-mail suggested that Microsoft might want to send a "WW hit team" to attack IBM, using its OEM (original equipment manufacturer) relationship to apply pressure. Asked about the meaning of "WW hit team," Gates said it referred to a Microsoft salesperson, with WW standing for "worldwide." Kempin's e-mail was in reply to a message from Gates, who had asked Kempin to get to the bottom of IBM's relationship with Lotus.

Gates danced around repeated questions from the government which wanted to know whether Microsoft regularly put pressure on IBM and other computer makers.

Other segments of Gates' deposition this morning depicted the two sides jousting over the code-names of Windows 98. The government is later expected to introduce numerous videotaped depositions from OEMs regarding their relationship with Microsoft.

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