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EDITIONS
Thursday, 29 April, 1999, 05:16 GMT 06:16 UK
Microsoft deposes competitors
Microsoft will try to show the AOL-Netscape deal levels the playing field
Microsoft will try to show the AOL-Netscape deal levels the playing field
Resumption of the Microsoft antitrust trial has been delayed a week due to scheduling conflicts, but Microsoft lawyers began deposing witnesses from newly merged competitor America Online-Netscape.

Presiding Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson has been engaged hearing a criminal case and has given the US Department of Justice, attorneys general from 19 states and Microsoft an additional week to produce a list of three witnesses for the upcoming rebuttal phase of the trial.

Microsoft began deposing witnesses on Wednesday from Netscape.

The software giant will also question witnesses from America Online and Sun Microsystems in an effort to show that AOL's acquisition of the browser pioneer and alliance with Sun have weakened the government's case.

The federal government and the states have tried to show that Microsoft has illegally used its dominant operating system to win the browser wars and extend its dominance into other markets.

In questioning the AOL, Netscape and Sun executives, the software company will try to prove that the merger and alliance is evidence of vigorous competition in the browser industry.

A Microsoft lawyer speaks to the press after depositions
Lawyers will depose a Sun Microsystems executive on Friday in San Francisco.

Next week, Microsoft will depose AOL Chairman Steve Case and the head of the online service's interactive division.

Reporters were allowed to sit in on the first hour of the deposition because of a court ruling earlier this year.

Several media organisations including Ziff-Davis, the Associated Press, Bloomberg, The New York Times, Reuters, The San Jose Mercury News, The Seattle Times, USA Today and The Washington Post fought to make the depositions public.

Testimony hurts Microsoft

Based on the court's decision to open the depositions, transcripts of the first of more than 90 depositions taken earlier in the trial were released on Monday.

The remaining transcripts, including that of Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, will be released throughout the week.

The initial release included testimony from Packard Bell NEC executives that said the dominance of the Windows operating system gave Microsoft leverage to impose its will on computer manufacturers.

Senior Packard Bell NEC executive Mel Ransom said Microsoft can make demands of hardware manufacturers because Windows is "the only viable choice" of operating systems for computers.

The depositions were not all in the government's favour.

Another Packard Bell NEC executive, Mark Donahue, said that it would consider offering other operating systems, but consumers had never asked for an alternative to Windows.

Secret settlement talks continue

Microsoft and the government are still engaged in settlement talks, but both sides have said that the talks must be conducted in secret.

Neither side has broken the silence surrounding the negotiations.

See also:

20 Jan 99 | The Company File
08 Feb 99 | The Company File
25 Mar 99 | The Company File
13 Apr 99 | Your Money
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