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October 14, 1998

GATES SAYS ANTITRUST CASE WON’T AFFECT BUSINESS

By CBR Staff Writer

Just weeks before the beginning of his company’s much publicized antitrust law suit Bill Gates, chairman and ceo of Microsoft Corp said yesterday he didn’t expect the suit to have any effect on the software giant’s future business. Speaking at this year’s Gartner Symposium in Florida, a laid-back Gates said the core question to consider was whether or not it was okay for a software vendor to enhance an operating system to include browser-like capabilities. We chose, instead of having a proprietary forms approach, which is what Windows had done previously, to put HTML in, Gates told a packed hall of IT professionals, for example, our Help format and Help utility both used Microsoft’s own format, and you had to have special editors to use them. But now that’s gone. Now we use the built in browser as a way of displaying that information. All the HTML tools from us or from other people are there to create those files anyway you want. So we think it was pretty obvious to get the browser capability integrated into the operating system. He added: For the courthouse to ask if there’s any user benefit to that, just look at the history of how it was done before Netscape came along and then decide. Gates said that Microsoft was very, very confident, given the criteria the courthouse had laid down, that that kind of innovation is a great thing. He added that there would be no change in what Microsoft is doing both in terms of its focus or product design as a direct result of the forthcoming case. But Gartner’s VP and research fellow Scott Winkler wasn’t so convinced. During a Microsoft analysis session later in the day, he said the DOJ case was all about Microsoft attempting to protect their unfettered ability to integrate technology into the operating system as a way of gaining market share. While the tactic means Redmond has to give the software away for nothing, Winkler said it would only do it when it feels it’s necessary from a strategic prospective. The analyst couldn’t say whether Microsoft’s strategy was legal or illegal but either way, he was convinced Redmond would fight it all the way. He said the outcome, particularly the restrictions the court might place on Microsoft, will have a large bearing on what the software giant can do in the future. With browser technology already integrated and in the rear mirror Winkler said the headlights would shine on Redmonds’ transaction processing technology. For now, at least, it’s a separate product, but Microsoft is crossing its fingers that any outcome of the DOJ trial won’t prevent it from bundling the software with NT 5.0. á

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