As expected, the U.S. Department of Justice and 20 states have urged a federal judge not to dismiss their antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft citing what they contend are anti-competitive acts directed against rivals Netscape Communications and Sun Microsystems.
The DOJ's legal filing late Monday also alleges that Microsoft sought to pressure chip partner Intel into rejecting business alliances with browser competitor Netscape. The filing also alleges that the software maker tried to dissuade Intel from working with Sun to develop the Java programming language, seen as a technology that could eventually threaten Microsoft's desktop monopoly.
Furthermore, the government alleges Microsoft sought to block Apple Computer and Real Networks from marketing their streaming media software products, which it saw as rivals to its own streaming audio and video platform.
The filing, which came in response to Microsoft's Aug. 10 request for the government's antitrust suit to be dismissed, maintains that the evidence of the software behemoth's anti-competitive acts comes from the company's own records. The DoJ and state officials also were harshly critical of Microsoft executives, saying that when interviewed under oath in the case, they showed "an astonishing lack of recall."
"Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, who is placed at the centre of key events by numerous documents, displayed a particular failure of recollection at his deposition," the government said in the filing. "Mr. Gates' testimony appears to be part of a pattern of Microsoft attempting to rewrite history." Microsoft officials have repeatedly said that such allegations are false, and sought in their Aug. 10 filing to have the case dismissed for failing to meet basic legal standards. A trial in the case is set to begin Sept. 23.
"The cumulative effect of Microsoft's anti-competitive and illegal conduct has been, and continues to be, to increase Microsoft's share of Internet browser usage, to reduce the revenues and increase the costs of rival browser manufacturers, to deter innovation...and to further entrench (its) operating system monopoly," DoJ officials said in the 89-page document. "The extraordinary potential costs to consumers and the economy of Microsoft's conduct are particularly clear with respect to Java and the browser," according to the filing. "First, Microsoft preserves its operating systems monopoly as both a rich and powerful monopoly in itself and as the engine for dominating related markets. Second, (it) extends its monopoly to browsers -- and thereby puts itself in a position to wield tremendous influence in directing computer users to particular products, services and sites on the Web."
The emphasis on the browser competition in Monday's filing comes after a federal appeals court in June ruled in a related case in June that Microsoft did not violate antitrust law by incorporating its Internet Explorer browser into the Windows 95 and Windows 98 operating systems.