Software Maker Says Microsoft Settlement Wont Help

Red Hat Inc. Chief Technology Officer Michael Tiemann testified OEMs need more protections from retaliatory actions by Microsoft than offered in the proposed settlement

Red Hat Inc. Chief Technology Officer Michael Tiemann testified Monday that OEMs need more protections from retaliatory actions by Microsoft Corp. than offered in the proposed settlement with the Department of Justice. The testimony opened the third week of court action brought by nine states and the District of Columbia seeking to impose remedies against Microsoft for anti-competitive conduct.

In a cross-examination of Tiemanns testimony, which began last Thursday, Microsoft lawyer Stephanie Wheeler sought to show that Red Hat itself had not done enough to help Linux gain ground in the desktop operating system marketplace. Insufficient investment in research and development and application development impeded the rival systems usage, she argued.

Following the cross-examination today, Tiemann said that Linux was prevented from gaining ground not by its own shortcomings but by Microsoft actions. "We could triple our staff and employ 100 percent technical people, and still it would make no impact," Tiemann said. The main problem for Linux is an inability to provide offerings that interoperate smoothly with Microsoft Windows products because of the lack of availability of technical information regarding those products, he said.

Athough Red Hat has been "substantially successful," in pursuing a Unix-to-Linux migration marketing strategy, it has not been successful in marketing Linux as an alternative to Windows, Tiemann said, adding that OEMs respond "very coldly" to the latter. In one instance, when Red Hat and Intel Corp. were meeting with an enterprise customer, Intel brought up a Linux-to-.Net migration strategy in the presentation, he said.

"I was shocked," Tiemann said. "We did not go there to discuss Linux as a desktop solution. It was as if Intel was pre-emptively killing any possibility of [Linux as the desktop solution]."

Tiemann said that the proposed settlement agreed to by Microsoft, the DOJ and nine different states in November would not remedy the interoperability problems. The API disclosure provisions would not allow developers to create applications that would operate smoothly between a PC installed with the Linux OS and a Microsoft server, he said. Without full interoperability between Microsoft servers and Linux PCs, enterprises are discouraged from incrementally installing Linux PCs on their networks, he testified.

Following Tiemanns testimony, Microsoft attorney Rick Pepperman began cross-examining Gateway Inc. counsel Anthony Fama, who testified that Microsoft began putting burdensome new licensing terms on OEMs in December following the proposed settlement with DOJ. Rather than giving PC makers more leverage in their dealings with the Redmond, Wash., software giant, the settlement proposal has had almost the opposite effect, giving Microsoft more control, Fama said.