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  • Trial Update

    Highlights and Summary of Evidence in the Microsoft Antitrust Trial, February 1-4, 1999

    Washington, D.C. -- Two Microsoft witnesses took the stand this week, as Microsoft continued to present its case in the government's antitrust lawsuit. Their testimony further shows that Microsoft's integration of Internet Explorer technology into Windows 98 is pro-competitive, and beneficial to both consumers and independent software developers. Microsoft Senior Vice President James Allchin showed how Microsoft had planned integration of Internet access into the Windows operating system as early as 1993, and also demonstrated that the "prototype removal program," created by government witness Professor Edward Felten, fails to remove Internet Explorer from Windows 98. Michael Devlin, president of Rational Software Corporation, explained that the open, componentized nature of Internet Explorer technologies allows him to create better products, and that his company, like many other independent software developers, supports many competing platforms in the interest of its customers.

    Microsoft's integration of Internet access into Windows is a natural step in the evolution of operating systems, not an illegal "tying" of two separate products.

    James Allchin told the court on Monday that Microsoft's decision to integrate Internet Explorer technology into Windows 98 offers consumers and software developers valuable benefits that can't be achieved simply by running a Web browser application on top of an operating system. He noted that users not only want easy access to the wealth of information on the Internet, but also want the ability to use that information seamlessly with other applications on their computers. Allchin observed that other companies, such as Be and Caldera, also integrate Internet capabilities into their operating systems in an effort to provide consumers and developers with such benefits.

    Allchin acknowledged that many benefits of Internet integration in the operating system are not dependent on Internet Explorer being pre-installed, but he strongly disputed government attorney David Boies' assertion that Windows and Internet Explorer are two separate and distinct products. "We're taking two pieces of Windows and putting them together," Allchin said. "[Internet Explorer] is replacing core Windows files, and it becomes a modified Windows system that has this integration in it. Without replacing those core files you couldn't get certain improvements, even if you loaded a separate browser."

    Boies told reporters that Allchin's testimony supports government allegations that Microsoft has illegally tied together two different products that should be offered separately to consumers. Microsoft refuted those claims by citing the June 1998 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals, which said that Microsoft has the right to determine what features and functions to include in its operating system as long as the end product offers "plausible consumer benefits." The Court ruled that Microsoft's integration of Internet Explorer and Windows meets that test. The Court also said that the method by which Internet Explorer is distributed, and whether installation is done by customers or computer manufacturers, is irrelevant.

    Microsoft chose to start integrating Internet access into Windows six years ago, prior to the founding of Netscape.

    Allchin continued his testimony on Tuesday, tracing the evolution of Microsoft's Internet Explorer technology and the company's decision to make it part of the Windows operating system. He said that he participated in discussions at a retreat about integrating Internet access into Windows as early as 1993, long before Netscape was founded.

    "At that retreat, I was in a subgroup that was targeted to go think about what we wanted to do about the Internet from the systems side, versus the applications side or online side or tools side," he said. "The team I was in came back and proposed that -- we add -- World Wide Web capability to Windows."

    "It was a strategy decision that we wanted to add that technology and capability to the system.," he said. " It took us a little while to implement these decisions, but that was absolutely the core of those decisions"

    Professor Edward Felten's "prototype removal program" degrades the performance of Windows 98, and it fails to remove Internet Explorer technology.

    Allchin also testified on Tuesday that a software program developed by government witness Professor Edward Felten fails to remove Internet Explorer (IE) technologies from Windows 98. The government has relied on this program, and Professor Felten's testimony, to support its allegation that Internet Explorer and Windows are two separate products that Microsoft has illegally "tied" together. Allchin refuted these claims with a videotaped demonstration which shows that the program not only fails to remove deeply integrated Internet Explorer technologies from Windows 98, but also degrades the performance of the operating system.

    Although it clearly demonstrated the validity of Allchin's testimony, minor inconsistencies in the videotape caused a distracting controversy. When it was played in court, a title on one screen showed "Microsoft Internet Explorer" where it should have said "Windows 98," a change made automatically by the Felten program. During the testing, one small entry in the Windows registry was changed automatically by a third-party application that was used to test the effects of the Felten program. The registry entry allows users to change the title for a particular screen window, a feature sometimes used by developers to insert brand names related to their own products. One application used in the tests apparently changed the entry when it was loaded, and then deleted it when the application was removed. This caused Windows 98 to revert to the default title, "Microsoft Internet Explorer," even though the Felten program was running on the machine. Allchin acknowledged this inconsistency, but maintained that the results of the videotaped tests accurately represent his findings.

    Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, agreeing that the confusion surrounding the videotape was not intentional, offered Microsoft the opportunity to conduct the tests again and create a new videotape to be used as evidence in the trial. Microsoft invited government attorneys and computer experts to monitor the taping session, carried out overnight by Allchin and a team of Microsoft technical experts. The new tape was played in court on Thursday, and clearly demonstrated the accuracy of Allchin's findings.

    Microsoft's integration of Internet Explorer technology into Windows 98 creates an open, componentized architecture that helps independent software vendors create better products.

    Michael Devlin, president of Rational Software Corporation, testified on Thursday that Microsoft's design of Windows 98 allows his company, and other independent software developers, to build faster, more powerful and more efficient tools and applications. Devlin, whose company produces development tools that enable software developers to write programs for multiple platforms, told the Court that the application programming interfaces (APIs) that provide Internet functionality in Windows are simply the most recent evolution of the networking and user-interface APIs that have been part of all operating systems for years. These APIs help Rational and other ISVs write software more efficiently and at lower cost. Devlin said that some Rational products would not function properly, or not at all, if the Internet Explorer components in Windows 98 were removed.

    Devlin, whose client list reads like a "Who's Who" of Microsoft's competitors, is just one example of many ISVs who develop for multiple platforms, including versions of Unix from Sun Microsystems, Hewlett Packard and IBM. Government attorney David Boies suggested in his questions that Rational's business relationship with Microsoft might be influencing his testimony, but Devlin disagreed, noting that the realities of the software business dictate that his company provide support for all its clients' platforms. "If you look at our revenue today, a little bit more than half is on the Windows platform and just under half -- is on the Unix platforms," he said. "The reality -- is that probably 80 percent of our customers have both platforms, and they make their decision on our support for their full environment."

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