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Wednesday, 24 April, 2002, 21:31 GMT 22:31 UK
Gates in court for third day
Bill Gates arriving at the court building in Washington on Wednesday with wife Melinda
Bill Gates:
Microsoft boss Bill Gates has appeared in court for a third day in a bid to protect his firm's control over its flagship Windows operating system.

Nine US states attempting to force Microsoft to offer modifiable versions of Windows have quizzed Mr Gates over claims that the software could not readily be made customisable.

Steven Kuney, lawyer acting for the states, cited a version, named Windows XP Embedded, which was sold with removable features.

Users could modify the product, designed for devices such as cash machines and TV set top boxes, to add to remove software such as the Media Player music system or Internet Explorer web browser, Mr Kuney said.

When asked whether similar freedom could be included in Windows versions designed for home use, Mr Gates replied: "Yes and no."

Windows XP Embedded, once installed, did not allow additional software to be installed.

"You wouldn't be able to go and take an application and install it and have it run," Mr Gates told US district judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly.

Gates admission

But Mr Kuney, pointing to a computer screen shot listing the functions available for Windows Embedded, argued that it was comparable to consumer versions of the system.

"There's no suggestion at this point that this is some sort of modified or truncated version of Internet Explorer, is there?" he asked Mr Gates.

"That's correct," Mr Gates replied.

Long running battle

The exchange was the latest twist of long-standing efforts to decide on penalties for Microsoft for transgressions of anti-trust laws.

Key dates of the legal battle
1995 Court orders Microsoft to scrap terms requiring PC makers to install Internet Explorer
1997 Justice Department claims Microsoft is violating earlier court order
1997 Microsoft ordered to supply Windows 95 without a browser
1998 US attorney general and 20 US states launch anti-trust lawsuits
April 2000 Microsoft found guilty of anti-competitive behaviour
June 2000 Judge orders Microsoft break-up
February 2001 Appeals court hearing begins
June 2001 Appeals court sets aside break-up ruling

The firm was originally ordered to be split up after being found guilty of exploiting its monopoly in the operating system market.

After the trial findings were overturned on appeal, Microsoft last year agreed less radical remedies with nine states and the US Justice Department.

The nine remaining states are holding out for more radical penalties, and in particular that Microsoft is forced to make the ubiquitous Windows system easier to customise.

The move would allow computer makers more freedom to feature rival software on PCs, so promoting consumer choice and rendering Microsoft less likely again to break anti-trust laws.

But Microsoft has said that the firm would be crippled if such conditions were imposed.

Remedies ought to be confined to areas where the firm has been found at fault, the firm's lawyers have argued.

The current hearings, now in their sixth week, are expected to continue into May.

Microsoft lawyer Brad Smith
"Comparing embedded software to Windows for a PC really is like comparing apples and oranges"

The settlement

Appeal court ruling

Appeal hearing

See also:

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