The war of words between the Department of Justice and Microsoft Corp escalated yesterday as the software vendor posted its detailed and angry response to the government’s allegations that it reneged on an earlier consent decree by integrating Internet Explorer with Windows 95 and forced personal computer manufacturers to license all or nothing. Redmond hit out at the government and asked the court to dismiss the allegations. The two sides will square off in a hearing on December 5. Microsoft submitted a 48-page response to the Department’s posting on October 20. Microsoft was being suitably aggressive for a press conference that started at the exact time the First World War ended, but this conflict should not last as long as that one: Microsoft’s senior VP law and corporate affairs, William Neukom said it would probably take months rather than weeks, depending on how much of a discovery process US District Court Judge Thomas Penfold Jackson decides is necessary. Jackson heard the original 1994 case, which lead to the consent decree. Microsoft is now claiming that Justice knew of its plans to integrate a browser with its operating system as early as the Fall of 1993. The company had previously said it was 1994 and the shift backwards moves the date before the incorporation of Netscape Communications Corp in April 1994 – the supposed victim in all this. Microsoft got the core technology from Spyglass Inc, when it licensed some of its Mosaic technology. Spyglass said yesterday it was first approached by Microsoft in early 1994, signed the first deal in December of that year and announced it in January 1995. The second deal was signed a year after the first and finally ended earlier this year. Justice had indeed started investigating the company in summer 1993 to look into its licensing of MS-DOS 6 and Windows 3.1 to personal computer manufacturers, and then encompassed the company’s proposed, but ultimately unsuccessful acquisition of Intuit Inc in 1994. But this spat is not really about the browser in particular; it is about Microsoft’s ability to define the scope of an OS as it sees fit. If that should include technology that requires separate installation to work fully, then so be it, says the company. Microsoft pointed to QuickTime as an example of a technology that is integrated with MacOS, but is also available on Windows. However, Neukom maintained that customers are the sole factor determining what should be integrated and what should remain separate. Microsoft also dismissed Justice’s allegations that its non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) were too restrictive by repeating its assertion that they are standard in the industry. It produced its own set of PC manufacturers to reiterate the point and counter Justice’s similar move a couple of weeks ago. Redmond’s submission concludes thus: In short, there is absolutely no basis for the relief the DOJ is requesting, and its petition should be dismissed. The full version is on its web site. Incidentally, unlikely as it seems now, back at the start of 1995, Redmond was positioning the Microsoft Network (MSN) as a rival to the internet, which it regarded then as largely an academic medium and not something to make money from (CI No 2,585), and Microsoft did not spell out any real internet strategy until the 1995 anniversary of Pearl Harbor, to which Bill referred in his speech at the time, trying to draw an analogy between the Microsoft announcement and President Roosevelt’s date which will live in infamy.
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