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Microsoft Opening Statement: Codswallop

This is the kind of thing that makes me nuts.

This is exactly why I started this column up. Because otherwise people would think I was insane for talking back to the newspaper. And I might actually go insane, from reading this kind of ignorant yahoo-ism, and wondering--nay, knowing, that thousands of daily newspaper readers are swallowing it hook, line and sinker.

What else could I mean that the unmitigated load of hooey served up by Microsoft's chief litigator, John Warden, in his opening statement and early cross-examination of Netscape honcho James Barksdale.

I'm not an attorney. I don't even play one on television. But I am a well-informed layman, one who has covered several antitrust trials, and there are a few things I know for a fact:

  • It is not illegal to have a monopoly
  • What is against the law is to maintain a monopoly with illegal activities--and that some activities which are legal if you don't have a monopoly are illegal if you do have one.
  • It is also illegal to use your monopoly to force people to buy, use or distribute your crappy product in order to obtain your good product . In the immortal words of the Loew's case, it is illegal to force a theater to show Getting Gertie's Garter in order to obtain the rights to Gone With The Wind. (Digress Here.)

By the way, even Bill Gates has conceded, in public, on the record, on multiple occasions, that versions 1 and 2 of Internet Explorer were marginal products, at best. In fact crappy wouldn't be too harsh a word. (Digress Here.)

The following quotes are from the San Francisco Chronicle of Oct. 21, 1998, in a front page story entitled Microsoft Disparages U.S. Case: It begins defense in antitrust trial


``Netscape had what the government would consider a monopoly in the market for Internet browsers until the great Satan, Microsoft, came along.''


No one, not even Microsoft, has ever tried to claim that Netscape leveraged some other product to obtain this monopoly or used illegal practices to maintain it. Unlike Microsoft, which had an operating system monopoly to exploit, Netscape started with nothing. Remember, a monopoly is not illegal; it's what you do with it.


Barksdale said Netscape ``learned that Compaq no longer intended to put Navigator on the desktop shortly after Microsoft threatened to cancel Compaq's Windows license.''


If you distribute their product, we'll withhold our vital product, one without which you cannot survive.


Warden also suggested that the government is applying two different rules, one for Microsoft and another for everyone else.


That is exactly what the nation's antitrust laws contemplate, and Warden knows it. This is so disingenuous that it makes my head spin. Microsoft is a monopolist, maintaining that power illegally and using it to leverage an inferior product into new markets, according to unrefuted evidence discovered by the government.

Microsoft To Throw Case? 

I found Jesse Berst's theory fascinating, so I am sharing it with you.


Berst has "come to a shocking conclusion: Microsoft will lose this case -- on purpose." [Expecting to win it on appeal]


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