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A Year Ago: Five myths about Microsoft vs DoJ

First published: Tue, 01 Jun 1999 10:06:39 GMT
Written by Jesse Berst, Contributor

I'm the first to concede the MS vs. DoJ trial can be drier than a bad barbecue. Petty legal wrangling. Dull witnesses. A pace so slow a 14.4 modem would have no trouble keeping up. But we can't ignore Microsoft's antitrust battle against the Department of Justice and 19 states, which resumes today in Washington. What happens in Judge Jackson's courtroom will impact your future software, your Internet access and your business. And believe it or not, you don't know everything about this case. To prove my point, I've exposed five myths about the Tech Trial of the Century:

The Justice Department will win for sure.

Granted, the DoJ and lead attorney David Boies have kicked major Microsoft butt, even when it was Microsoft's turn to steer the action. (Remember those bungled videotapes?) But Boies' performance is about theatrics. This trial will be decided on facts, too. And the DoJ hasn't done well in the hard evidence department.

Trial delays help Microsoft.

Some say delays help Microsoft -- more time for argument -- supporting mergers like America Online and Netscape to happen and more water under the bridge since Windows 95's release. Some, including Microsoft itself, say delay hurts -- more time spent in court rather than on product development.

Microsoft won't budge from its initial argument.

Even stubborn Gates & Co. lawyers are shifting away from "Competition from Netscape's browser means we aren't a monopoly." Microsoft is now going to argue "Competition from online services means we aren't a monopoly."

Microsoft can always rely on supportive testimony

Well, this was true until last week, when two longtime Gates boosters changed their tune: Gordon Eubanks: The former Symantec CEO conceded Friday that Microsoft's inclusion of McAfee anti-virus software in a Windows 95 Plus Pack hurt Symantec.

IBM: The love-hate relationship between Big Bill and Big Blue veered into Hate City when an IBM witness testified Thursday that Microsoft quintupled royalties when IBM refused to axe a competing operating system.

The DOJ has revealed its hand.

Not so, given that Boies' Boys spent the past months dredging up fresh evidence. Likewise, Microsoft says it has surprise evidence to reveal. (More "doctored" videos, do you suppose?). In other words, a lot can happen between today and whenever Judge Jackson renders his decision -- next year, it looks like. I'm certain, however, that if Microsoft loses it will appeal ad nauseum. My advice for Bill Gates remains: "Settle this dispute out of court and move on."

Take me to the DOJ/Microsoft special

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