By Siobhan Kennedy
Experts here say yesterday’s revelations mark the defining moment of the antitrust trial so far. Although it will be difficult for the government to prove that Microsoft actually tampered with the tape during the editing process, forcing its chief technical expert to admit there were inaccuracies will nonetheless serve to reduce the software giant’s credibility in the eyes of the judge. Microsoft has itself billed Allchin’s testimony as being pivotal to its defense case, so that the fact that, in just the second day of cross examination, the government’s attorney uncovered such blatant inaccuracies in the company’s evidence is at best embarrassing to Redmond. At worst, it could turn the case against the software giant. During the press conference, lead attorney David Boies stressed that the point wasn’t whether Microsoft had or hadn’t added other applications to the test machines, or whether they had or hadn’t used the Felten program. Rather, he said the key message to take home was that the tape Redmond had submitted as evidence was not reliable. I’m not going to say that something nefarious went on in Redmond, he said, the court will have to judge the credibility of the arguments. The real point isn’t whether Mr Allchin is a bad guy, the point is that the evidence he came into court with is unreliable. It’s up to the judge whether or not to believe what Allchin said. In another embarrassing turnaround, Boies also forced Allchin to admit that an email written in 1997 in which he stated that he thought IE should be decoupled from the OS, was wrong. Mr Boies, this is just wrong, what I wrote here was wrong, Allchin said. In turning the arguments into a question of credibility, the government may well have hammered the first nail into Microsoft’s coffin.