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February 9, 1999

HOW MSOFT GORILLA FACED UP TO KING KONG OF CONTENT

By CBR Staff Writer

In his final period on the witness stand, Microsoft Corp’s senior director of business development Will Poole aimed to show that Microsoft, through its contracts with 24 content providers, intended to merely build brand recognition and increase use of its innovative technology, rather than grab browser market share. Under friendly questioning from Microsoft lawyer Richard Pepperman, Poole retold the story to the court about how its Active Desktop push technology ended up failing because users indicated – through their lack of usage – that they were comfortable with the browser model and did not want another way to view content in HTML. Microsoft has since let all the content provider contracts lapse, and has no intention of renegotiating them. He said the company needed to build brand awareness because Netscape was beating it hands down in terms of installed browser base. Referring to the fall of 1996, Poole insisted that by far, again, we’re the underdog here. The policy of getting content providers to produce differentiated content only visible using Internet Explorer was part of that plan. He had shown a video earlier during his time on the stand whereby a Disney site showed an animated Mickey Mouse dancing across the page, which was not viewable using Navigator. This prompted government attorney David Boies to produce an email among Disney executives in October 1997 when one of them, Steve Wadsworth likened negotiating with Microsoft to being roughed up by the 1000 pound gorilla of the industry. Poole said it was ironic that the King Kong of content should be worried about a 1000 pound gorilla. Microsoft had complained that Disney had used its full logo, including mouse ears on a push channel on Netscape’s rival Netcaster, contrary to its deal with Microsoft. Poole said we had some words, prompting Microsoft attorney and trainee wit Pepperman to finish Poole’s time on the stand by observing that the dispute had been between the King Kong of content and the 1000 pound gorilla over mouse ears. But by then the joke had worn a bit thin.

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