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July 21, 1998

FORMER ACER EMPLOYEE ALLEGES MICROSOFT BULLYING

By CBR Staff Writer

A former employee of Acer America Corp has claimed that the company persistently yielded to pressure from Microsoft Corp to use its products at the expense of competitors. Both Acer and Microsoft have denied the allegations and described the former product manager, Ricardo Correa as a disgruntled employee. But Correa claims that on three occasions pressure was applied on him to adopt Microsoft’s software. Correa told Reuters that the account manager at Microsoft would say, Ricardo, we really don’t consider you a Microsoft partner just because you buy the operating system. He also says he was told: Bill (Gates) is not happy with you. Correa, who used to work for the San Jose, Californian arm of Taiwanese personal computer maker, says he made the claims because he was disillusioned with the industry. He says that Acer was set to put Lotus Development Corp’s Smart Suite on its machines but when Microsoft got wind of the deal, just two days before the contract was due to be signed at the beginning of last year, Microsoft called a meeting with Correa and ordered him to kill the deal. Acer then installed Microsoft BookShelf on its systems, alleges Correa. Correa also claims Acer pulled out of a software licensing deal with Corel Corp, because company bosses didn’t want to upset Microsoft and endanger a joint technology partnership. Correa says the final straw came when a colleague refused to replace the Microsoft Encarta encyclopedia with IBM Corp’s World Book. Correa further alleged that Acer executives were worried that if the company irked Microsoft, the software giant would retaliate by withholding bug fixes and software updates. Microsoft and Acer have both said that Correa’s allegations are unfounded and untrue. But a Corel spokesperson who dealt with Correa in the past said he was on the up-and-up and very professional. Whether the allegations are true or not, they come at a particularly sensitive time for Microsoft, which is facing anti-trust and exclusionary business practice charges, brought by the US Justice Department and 20 US states (CI No 3,413).

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