Gates testifies that remedy would destroy Microsoft

Bill Gates has told a court in America that sanctions demand by nine US states would cripple Microsoft. The states returned fire by introducing into evidence e-mails that seemed to contradict Gates’s testimony.

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By  Neil Denslow Published  April 23, 2002

Bill Gates, the co-founder and chairman of Microsoft, has told a court in America that sanctions demand by nine US states would cripple the company. The states returned fire by introducing into evidence e-mails that seemed to contradict Gates’s testimony.

Gates said in written testimony that if the states won, the company might be forced to withdraw its Windows operating system. Furthermore, he told Judge Colleen Kotar-Kotelly that removing the Internet Explorer (IE) browser —a key demand of the states— would destroy Windows altogether as it was impossible to define what IE was.

“The term IE can be used in different contexts to mean different (kinds) of code. There is no known definition... where it is clear you know (exactly) what somebody is talking about,” he argued.

In regards to the states’ demand that Microsoft permit the customisation of Windows by computer makers and other software companies, Gates contended that this “would undermine all three elements of Microsoft’s success, causing great damage to Microsoft, other companies that build upon Microsoft’s products, and the businesses and consumers that use PC software”.

Gates insisted during the hearing that Microsoft did not obstruct other companies from working with Windows and did all it could to reveal source code to its rivals.

However, the states produced an internal memo from Gates telling staff to stop efforts to make documents from the Office suite compatible with rival web browsers.

“Allowing Office to be rendered very well by other people’s browsers is one of the most destructive things we can do to the company,” he wrote.

Gates told the court, though, that he was merely halting a project that wasn’t succeeding.

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