Microsoft in multi-billion dollar case
Company stands accused on anti-competitive behaviour by Word Perfect creator
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has given evidence in a multi-billion dollar anti-competition case brought by Novell, which accuses Microsoft of duping the company prior to launching Windows 95, according to the Press Association.
The case is being held in the federal court in Salt Lake City, Utah and Gates was the first witness at the trial as Microsoft lawyers presented their case.
Novell has claimed that Microsoft violated US anti-competition laws through its arrangements with other computer manufacturers, when it launched Windows 95. Novell first sued Microsoft in 2004.
Novell said that Gates ordered company engineers to reject WordPerfect as a Windows 95 application because he feared it was too good.
After rejection, WordPerfect's share of the market plummeted from nearly 50% to less than 10% as Microsoft's own office programmes took hold.
Novell has said it was forced to sell its own programme, WordPerfect, for a $1.2 billion loss.
Novell lawyer Jeff Johnson has admitted that Microsoft was under no legal obligation to provide advance access to the Windows 95 operating system so Novell could prepare a compatible WordPerfect version.
However, Microsoft did entice Novell to work on a version, only to withdraw support before Windows 95 hit the market, he said.
Microsoft lawyer David Tulchin said Gates decided not to install WordPerfect because it threatened to crash Windows and could not be fixed in time.
He added that Novell's missed opportunity was its own fault, and that Microsoft had no obligation to give a competitor a leg up.
Johnson maintains Novell was tricked in violation of federal laws so Microsoft could take over the market. Microsoft is seeking for the case to be dismissed and said the claims are groundless.