By Dan Jones in Washington
Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson lost his patience with Microsoft Corp’s Robert Muglia in court last Friday and shouted at the witness as he tried to push the envelope by continuing with an answer after the Judge had told him not to. The tumultuous exchange occurred during lead government attorney David Boies cross-examination of Microsoft’s Java man. Boies was asking about a May 14, 1997 email from Bill Gates in which the CEO stated that he was hardcore about NOT supporting JDK 1.2. Boies asked if Muglia took Gates’ statement in the email seriously. Muglia said, we take Bill very seriously, in general. Boies followed by asking the witness what he thought Gates meant by the statement. Muglia argued at length over the meaning, saying that it wasn’t clear exactly what Gates had meant. At this point the exasperated judge interrupted, saying, I read it as saying he doesn’t like the idea of supporting it, I don’t think it can be read any other way…So let’s not argue about it. Undaunted, Muglia resumed his interpolations of the meaning of the email, his voice rising in pitch as he put forward other meanings. The furious Jackson cut him off in mid-sentence, yelling, No, stop. There is no question pending! Still visibly riled, Jackson told Muglia that his counsel would offer him a chance to put his point across when it came to the redirect. This exchange was the high water mark of a breakneck cross-examination by Boies of Microsoft’s actions in the Java sphere. The government argued that Microsoft set out to muddy the waters of the cross-platform language – polluting and fragmenting the language with native Win32 code, forcing developers to use their version of Java. Muglia said that from the fall of 1995 he had seen Java as a major threat to the Windows business, claiming that Sun Microsystems Inc’s Java platform was especially worrying because it could make everything that our platform did irrelevant. The court was shown an October 1997 internal Microsoft presentation in which one of the stated goals was to kill cross-platform Java by growing the polluted Java market. Muglia dismissed the document saying that it had been written by a temporary employee at Redmond and had not gone beyond her immediate management. However, when Boies returned to the document in his wrap-up he proved that at least one other person at Microsoft had seen it. The document had been produced for the trial from Russ Arun’s files. Muglia said that the employee might have worked with Malone. Boies then produced a 1997 internal email string – written in part by Malone – concerning Microsoft’s posting on the internet of sections of Sun’s JDK 1.1 – something they were contractually obligated to do. Throughout his time on the stand, Muglia had insisted that Sun, not Microsoft was to blame for Redmond not supporting version 1.2 of the developer’s kit. Muglia claimed that Sun had violated its contract and not sent Microsoft copies of JDK 1.2 to distribute. But the email string gave some idea of Microsoft’s view of the Sun product. The email, entitled posting RMI bits on MSDN had James Van Eaton writing to Brad Abrahams and Russ Arun that he had posted sections of JDK 1.1 on the net but that, There will be no entry in the index for this file – they’ll have to stumble across it. He gave an extremely obscure URL and continued, in this directory I’d say its pretty buried. Arun replied, Awesome. Muglia claimed that Arun had no responsibility for posting and that the code they were talking about was a beta version. Boies then pointed out later in the email string that Van Eaton, Abrahams and Eaton had been asked by Charles Fitzgerald to sit on the posting until October 1, 1997 – the release date of JDK 1.1. Van Eaton wrote back that he had complied with this request. Muglia had to agree they were talking about a finished product but protested that, I had specified that I didn’t want it hidden. But was he aware there was a proposal that the code be hidden, Boies asked. Yes I was, Muglia said. No furth
er questions, Boies said. The trial will now recess for over a month, before resuming with the rebuttal witnesses.