In the third day of the remedy hearing pursued by nine states and the District of Columbia against Microsoft Corp. for its anti-competitive conduct, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly attempted to streamline some of the testimony and urged the parties to provide more substance in their responses.
The judge made clear that she would not allow new accusations of anti-competitive behavior, and, on Microsofts request, she ruled out portions of written testimony that she characterized as hearsay. She also asked both camps to provide more pointed responses to each others allegations in the hearing that is expected to last at least another six weeks.
RealNetworks Inc. Vice President David Richards took the stand this afternoon, claiming that his company had been the target of anti-competitive behavior by Microsoft. However, prior to his appearance, Kollar-Kotelly struck several portions of his written testimony, calling them “classic hearsay.” The rejected testimony alleged that Microsoft compelled OEMs to forgo agreements to install RealNetworks media players, but it did not offer direct evidence to that effect.
Richards alleged that Microsoft withheld technical information, making it difficult for RealNetworks media players to operate smoothly with the Windows operating system because the Redmond, Wash., software giant viewed RealNetworks as a competitive threat to its own Windows Media Player. Microsofts cross-examination of Richards attempted to show that, rather than being a victim, RealNetworks has achieved considerable success.
Earlier in the day, former Netscape Communications Inc. Chief Executive James Barksdale testified that the remedies outlined in Microsofts proposed settlement with the Department of Justice–which is under separate review by Kollar-Kotelly–would allow Microsoft to wield the same illegal monopoly power it had been found guilty of using against Netscape.
Revisiting well-traveled ground, Barksdale said that in 1996 Microsoft began pressuring OEMs to install Internet Explorer, which had a devastating effect on Netscapes ability to market its own browser. He charged that several provisions in the settlement proposal would permit Microsoft to reassert monopoly power over other middleware products. While the proposal contains a provision allowing end users and OEMs to remove end user access to Microsoft middleware, “all it does is hide the product,” Barksdale said. “The developer knows the APIs are still there.”
Barksdale also attacked the Microsoft Desktop Clean-up Wizard as a way of increasing usage of Microsoft products over rival products, eliciting a series of objections from Microsoft attorney John Warden, who said the feature does not do anything without the users direction.
The nine states and the District of Columbia are seeking remedies that would require Microsoft to offer a modular version of Windows allowing developers to remove middleware.