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Tuesday, 23 April, 2002, 03:49 GMT 04:49 UK
Gates cool on the stand
Bill Gates
Mr Gates showed his best face in court
test hello test
By BBC News Online's Kevin Anderson
in Washington
Bill Gates appears to have upgraded his legal abilities. Maybe it's a new project at Microsoft - Witness XP with a cooler, more soothing interface.

On Monday, Mr Gates avoided many of the missteps he made in videotaped testimony four years ago.

Steady under cross-examination, the world's richest man calmly told the court how remedies proposed by nine states that have refused a settlement in the case would hurt not only Microsoft but also consumers and the personal computer industry.

Public relations debacle

One reporter said before the testimony that the states' attorney would try to "freak (Gates) out" and make Microsoft's Chief Software Architect give a reprise of his disastrous performance during the anti-trust trial four years ago.

Legal experts panned his videotaped testimony, saying that Mr Gates was defensive to the point of being arrogant.

And even more than a legal victory for the government, Mr Gates' public image also suffered. He was seen mechanically rocking back and forth in his chair and obsessively gulping soft drinks.

Some think that Mr Gates' performance helped turn Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson against the company. The judge questioned the credibility of the software magnate's testimony.

Polished witness

But it was a much more practised and polished Mr Gates who entered the courtroom Monday.
Bill Gates
Mr Gates' said that consumers and computer industry benefited from a unified Windows

To warm up, he gave a PowerPoint slide presentation submitted with more than 150 pages of testimony.

The slides attempted to graphically depict the effect the non-settling states proposed remedy would have on Microsoft and what he likes to call the "PC ecosystem," broadly defined as all of the companies involved in some way with the personal computer industry.

In one slide, a happy blue Microsoft Windows icon is seen ripped open to illustrate the negative effects on the company of having to comply with the states' technical information disclosure requirements.

But legal experts said that the presentation allowed Microsoft to delay cross-examination until after a lunch break and to allow Mr Gates to give a broad overview of his written testimony.

Even under cross-examination, Mr Gates remained calm and relaxed.

He answered questions directly and even seemed to enjoy jousting with the states' attorney Steven Kuney to the point where Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said, "I hate to interrupt the chatter" during an exchange.

Dire predictions

Throughout his testimony, Mr Gates took the opportunity to give voice to claims that the states proposed remedy would gut Microsoft.

States still pursuing Microsoft
West Virginia
District of Columbia
But it was with these grim predictions of the future under the states' proposed remedies where Mr Kuney was able to score points.

In his written testimony, Mr Gates said that in his reading of the states' remedies that the moment a good idea came into the head of an applications engineer that might be useful to include in the operating system it might be a violation of the proposed remedies.

The audience chuckled. "The moment the idea enters his head?" Mr Kuney asked.

Mr Gates stood by his assertion, and anti-trust expert Bob Lande said that the states might have scored points by showing that Mr Gates is exaggerating the impact of the proposed remedies.

Mr Gates' testimony could continue through Wednesday.

See also:

22 Apr 02 | Business
Gates denounces Microsoft penalties
23 Jan 02 | Business
AOL Time Warner sues Microsoft
04 Apr 02 | Business
Microsoft chief in surprise exit
08 Mar 02 | Business
Sun sues Microsoft
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