Special Report: Long list of Microsoft employees deposed by DoJ

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) may be expanding its investigations into Microsoft's practices but the list of Microsoft engineers and mid-level managers being deposed shows it has hardly forgotten its core charges against the company.Members of the core four-person team that built Internet Explorer 1.

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) may be expanding its investigations into Microsoft's practices but the list of Microsoft engineers and mid-level managers being deposed shows it has hardly forgotten its core charges against the company.

Members of the core four-person team that built Internet Explorer 1.0, managers of Microsoft's relationships with its top OEMs, and a strategist for acquisitions are among the 13 Microsoft employees who join Chairman and CEO Bill Gates, President Steve Ballmer and two other unnamed employees in the last round of DoJ depositions before the trial. The questioning of Gates reportedly got under way Thursdsay. While the depositions are closed to the public, sources said they will likely focus on the tactics Microsoft used to ensure OEMs would include IE on their computers as well as on the June 1995 meetings between Microsoft and Netscape Communications. Included on the list of second-tier engineers and managers to be deposed are Thomas Reardon, Ben Slivka, Steven Sinofsky and J Allard - all of whom were involved in the development of IE 1.0 and the management of the relationship with Netscape. Reardon was the primary Netscape liaison at the time, according to sources, and one of those in attendance at the infamous meetings that took place at Netscape's headquarters in Mountain View, California. Allard, currently general manager of Microsoft's Windows DNA (Distributed interNet Architecture) effort, is credited as the company's first Internet program manager. He joined the company in the early 1990s and was charged with integrating TCP/IP into Microsoft's LAN Manager and Windows for Workgroups products. Since that time, Allard has worked on a number of Internet-related projects at Microsoft.

On the OEM side of things, Bengt Akerlind, Candace Grisdale, Donald Hardwick, Gayle McClain and Joseph Williams are due to be questioned about their jobs as Microsoft representatives to some of the industry's biggest computer vendors. Akerlind is the director of OEM sales and marketing and reports directly to Joachim Kempin, senior vice president of the OEM sales and marketing group, who has already been deposed twice by DoJ attorneys. Grisdale, according to sources, is the Hewlett-Packard account manager, while McLain manages the Gateway account, according to a deposition provided by a Gateway executive last fall. "They're going after the team [that] sets pricing and contracts. Our [OEM] divisions deal day-in and day-out with this team of people," said an official at one computer maker who requested anonymity. "These are the guys who handle the push-back and escalation. If Microsoft was bludgeoning us on something, our first line of contact would be our account managers."

Added another OEM official who asked not to be identified: "This is a good move on the DoJ's part. These aren't the usual front-line people who are used to lying. They're the soldiers. [The DoJ] will be able to ask them whether their accounts have asked for certain things to be included in their contracts." Others to be questioned by the government include: Carl Stork, general manager of Microsoft's Windows hardware platforms, who is also responsible for the creation of PC maker requirements such as PC99 and digital TV efforts. Dan Rosen, currently the general manager of new technology for Microsoft Research, who was the MSN general manager in 1995. He joined Microsoft in 1994 as senior director of strategic relationships in the Advanced Technology Group, where he was responsible for joint ventures and acquisitions in the areas of communications, online services and the Internet. William Poole, who was co-founder of electronic-commerce software developer e-Shop, which Microsoft bought to create SiteServer Commerce Edition. Currently Poole is involved in Microsoft's business development and acquisitions efforts. Richard Wolf is also slated to be questioned.

Microsoft officials declined to comment on the depositions. "We aren't commenting on who's on the list [of subjects to be deposed]. We aren't providing the list or commenting because we don't have to," said Jim Cullinan, a spokesman for the software company.

While the DoJ is focusing on integration and browser issues, it is also still canvassing the industry for illegal practices employed by Microsoft. The DoJ is reportedly looking at Microsoft's closest partner, Intel, regarding deals and threats Microsoft made against the microprocessor giant.

Likewise, Bristol Technology's two founders, Keith and Ken Blackwell, gave the DoJ a full briefing on Bristol's antitrust suit filed last week over Microsoft's alleged withholding of Windows APIs and Windows NT source code.

Separately, Caldera this week stepped up its efforts to gather information for its own suit against Microsoft. Caldera officials said on Wednesday they intend to go back to court to request that Microsoft be required to turn over more of its Windows and DOS source code to attorneys and legal experts. Caldera officials also confirmed that the company's original complaint alleges that Microsoft knowingly introduced incompatibilities into Windows 3.1 in order to stifle competition.