Wednesday, October 28, 1998 Published at 15:26 GMT
Microsoft defends 'visionary' Gates
Microsoft says the government does not have a case
Microsoft has defended its billionaire chairman Bill Gates as defence counsel opened its case on day two of the anti-trust trial brought against the software giant by the US Government.
"Microsoft hasn't denied consumer choice, it IS consumer choice," Microsoft attorney John Warden told the court. "The antitrust laws are not a code of civility in business."
"A personal attack unleashed by the government on such a visionary as Bill Gates is no substitute for proof," said the lead counsel for Microsoft.
Microsoft's legal team maintains the Seattle-based company is fighting for the principle "that every company ought to be able to innovate ... to improve its products in a way that meets the demands of its customers."
The key argument is over the way Microsoft markets its Explorer Internet browser, which it includes free with the Windows 98 operating system.
Jim Barksdale, chief executive of Netscape Communications, appeared as the trial's first witness on Tuesday afternoon.
But his cross-examination did not reach the central allegation that Microsoft illegally proposed splitting the browser market with Netscape during a June 1995 meeting.
In written testimony released on Monday, Mr Barksdale said that at the time Microsoft executives had made it clear that if Netscape didn't agree, "Microsoft would crush Netscape, using its operating system monopoly."
Microsoft counsel then asked why a growing number are using Explorer: "Because it came with the machine," Mr Barksdale responded.
On Monday prosecution lawyer David Boies told the court: "What you see is a consistent pattern of Microsoft doing this, using its monopoly power, using its leverage, using everything it has."
The federal Justice Department and 20 state governments accuse Microsoft of using its market dominance to try to squeeze out its competition in an attempt to unfairly create a monopoly.
Microsoft operating systems run on more than 90% of the world's computers.
Eight year investigation
But Microsoft officials said that after eight years of investigation the government had no proof that the company had tried to stifle competition.
"We didn't hear anything that the government hasn't been saying for weeks or even months," said Mr Neukom after the first day of the trial.
Microsoft spokesman Mark Murray, said the government was "taking two bits of information and trying to weave them together to make these allegations."
The trial is expected to last six to eight weeks. But with appeals possible all the way to the Supreme Court, the case could well last for years.