Maritz denies Microsoft altered its business history

U.S. suggests references to browser were changed

January 27, 1999|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

WASHINGTON -- Microsoft Corp. executive Paul Maritz denied yesterday at the software giant's antitrust trial a government lawyer's suggestion that the company rewrote the history of its business practices as its legal troubles mounted.

Maritz was confronted with Microsoft e-mail written four months before the U.S. Justice Department and 19 states filed antitrust lawsuits last spring. The message ordered deletion of references to Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser as a separate product from its Windows 98 computer operating system.

"I am very concerned how IE is presented in Win98," wrote Microsoft Senior Vice President James E. Allchin. He ordered a "sweep" of the Internet Explorer World Wide Web site to "ensure it is clear the IE is just a capability of Windows."

Whether Internet Explorer is a separate product or part of the operating system is crucial. The government charges that Microsoft purposely welded the Web browser into Windows 98 to undercut rival Netscape Communications Corp.'s Navigator Web browser, thereby protecting its monopoly for operating software.

The importance of the issue was underscored by questions from U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, who will decide whether Microsoft broke the law. The judge coaxed Maritz to acknowledge that Microsoft integrated the browser into Windows to boost the company's share of the market at the expense of Net- scape.

"The primary objective was to increase browser share?" the judge asked.

"Correct," Maritz said.

"Or get more people to use it, in other words to get more browser share?" said Jackson.

"Yes," Maritz said.

Maritz insisted to chief government trial lawyer David Boies that there were overriding marketing reasons -- not just legal concerns -- to identify Internet Explorer as part of Windows.

Allchin "was concerned there were too many brands and concepts competing with Windows," Maritz testified.

Pub Date: 1/27/99

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