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Monday, 22 November, 1999, 15:12 GMT
The Microsoft trial: Graham Lea investigates


The US Department of Justice's trial of Microsoft was one of the most complicated anti-trust (monopoly) cases in recent years, taking the courts into uncharted waters.

But while the talk was technical - the issues were simple: Did Microsoft abuse its position and bully competitors?

Industry analyst Graham Lea of Heterodox.com followed the trial for BBC News Online. Read his despatches from the frontline of the battle for the face of tomorrow's computers.




The scene is set

Twice before, the US Department of Justice had tried to restrain Microsoft and failed.
This time they said they were determined to strike a blow.



Oct 21: Microsoft 'threatened Netscape's oxygen'
In the opening scenes, prosecutors allege that Microsoft plotted to wipe out its main browser competitor when Netscape refused to form a cartel.

Oct 26: Netscape on the stand
Netscape's chief James Barksdale faces tough cross-examination after the opening statements from the attorneys.




Nov 2: Software giant claims conspiracy
Microsoft's defence team tells the court that rather than being the orchestrator of a plan to crush the opposition, it was the potential victim of a campaign run by others.

Nov 4: The Gates tapes
Bill Gates's testimony to the trial becomes the star attraction after Microsoft fails to prevent its release.

Nov 9: 'We're talking about knifing the baby'
The court hears dramatic evidence of how the battle between Microsoft and Apple hotted up.
Nov 16: Gates denies Intel allegations
More video-taped evidence of Bill Gates's testimony sees him deny bullying the chip-maker Intel.

Nov 21: Pressure mounts on Mircosoft
The software company suffers a bad week in the courts - both in the US and Japan.

Nov 30: Drama moves to outside the court
America Online's shock acquisition of Netscape and the Japan Fair Trade Commission's verdict against Microsoft doinates the week's agenda.




Dec 7: Focus groups 'prove monopoly'
The trial hears how, rather than setting a price for its Windows products, Microsoft tried out various levels with panels of consumers.

Dec 14: Java faced 'a knife in the hand'
Witnesses tell of how Microsoft allegedly attempted to modify the programming language Java to destroy its ability to work with other operating systems.

Dec 19: Microsoft could have removed IE integration
An expert witness for the Justice Department disputes Microsoft's claims that it was impossible to separate Windows 98 and Internet Explorer.




January 5: Redmond giant moves against Intuit
Bill Gates' company calls for the evidence of competitor company Intuit to be struck from the record, claiming the firm was using the case to advance its own interests.

Jan 25: Economist warns of threat to Microsoft
Richard Schmalensee, Microsoft's economics witness, rebutts allegations of a monopoly and argues that Windows is under attack from other operating systems.




Feb 2: MS vice president takes the stand
Paul Maritz enters the witness box and denies having said that the company would "embrace and smother" the competition.

Feb 8: MS rocked over integration claims
Government lawyers target the company's claims that only Windows 98 and Explorer together offer "deep integration".

Feb 15: Internet content providers targeted in browser wars
The trial hears that Microsoft pressured content providers to remove references to Netscape on their websites.

Feb 22: Compaq PC deal scrutinised
Trial lawyers investigate allegations that MS leaned on Compaq over the PC manufacturer's deal with Netscape.




The final stages March 1: Microsoft rests its defence
The last of Microsoft's 12 witnesses take the stand, ending a major stage of the court marathon, and prompting speculation over the company's future.

May 2: Experts ponder Microsoft's fate
Computer experts hold a conference in Washington to debate what will happen to Microsoft - but the company declines an invitation to co-sponsor the event.

May 31: Microsoft trial resumes
Both parties return to court with the stakes as high as ever.

June 14: 'MS killed OS/2' - IBM
A senior IBM figure tells the trial that Microsoft succeeded in modifying or had attempted to influence the manufacturers' choice of PC software.

August 9: Making plans for Microsoft
As the two sides wind up their respective cases, Graham Lea looks at the options open to the judge.

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