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Wednesday, 28 October, 1998, 15:25 GMT
Microsoft says Netscape the bad boys
Bill Gates and Explorer
Bill Gates' browser strategy on trial
Microsoft continues to try and make rival Netscape's marketing strategy the focus of suspicion in the anti-trust trial that sees the world software giant charged with stifling competition.

Day four has seen lead counsel for Microsoft, John Warden, alleging Netscape had always planned to give away its Navigator browser for free and concentrate on its other software products for profits.

It is Microsoft that stands accused of giving its Explorer browser away free, as part of its Windows operating software, in order to squeeze out Netscape in the so-called browser wars.

Flags
USA V Microsoft
The issue is at the heart of the anti-trust trial brought against Bill Gates' giant by the US government and 20 states.

Mr Warden exhibited a document, dated November 1994, in which Netscape co-founder Mark Andreessen wrote that the company was "absolutely committed to giving away 1.0 for personal use," referring to the first version of Navigator.

Facing his third day of cross examination, Netscape chief Jim Barksdale said: "Mark Andreessen was speaking for himself and not the corporation."

Tactics

Microsoft's tactics follow on from Wednesday's proceedings when it alleged that it was in fact Netscape that had tried to reduce competition in the Internet browser market.

Cross examination of Mr Barksdale then centred on secret talks between the two rivals in 1994 and 1995.

Netscape has claimed that during a high-level meeting in June 1995 between executives from both companies, Microsoft tried to bully it into dividing up the market for Internet browsers software - and threatened Netscape if it failed to agree.

Secret approach

However Microsoft lead counsel John Warden has countered the allegation, saying Microsoft was merely responding to overtures initiated by Netscape.

He produced a December 1994 e-mail from Netscape co-founder Jim Clark proposing Microsoft take a stake in the company.

Netscape has not denied the approach but Mr Barksdale downplayed the significance of the document saying Mr Clark "had on his own, gone off and fired a letter" in a moment of weakness.

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.

Gates attack

Bill Gates
"Visionary" Gates
On Tuesday Microsoft was forced to defend its billionaire chairman Bill Gates from personal attack.

Justice Department lawyers had opened their case on Monday by singling out Mr Gates, pointing to what they said were inconsistencies between sworn videotaped evidence and e-mails and memos that Mr Gates had written several years earlier.

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.

See also:

28 Oct 98 | Microsoft
28 Oct 98 | Microsoft
19 Oct 98 | The Company File
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