By Jonathan Collins in Washington Microsoft Corp attorneys will today try to show that IBM executive and key government rebuttal witness Garry Norris was deliberately lied to by his own IBM bosses. According to Microsoft’s case, IBM looked to him to negotiate a strong partnership with Microsoft while they simultaneously directed an attack to beat […]
By Jonathan Collins in Washington
Microsoft Corp attorneys will today try to show that IBM executive and key government rebuttal witness Garry Norris was deliberately lied to by his own IBM bosses. According to Microsoft’s case, IBM looked to him to negotiate a strong partnership with Microsoft while they simultaneously directed an attack to beat Microsoft at every turn.
Starting its re-direct of the witness yesterday, Microsoft attorney Rick Pepperman immediately tried to show that the discussions between IBM and Microsoft which took place before Norris began managing license agreements for Windows for IBM, were misrepresented to Norris by IBM executives when he took over the job in March 1995. Norris had testified on Monday that in the fall of 1994, IBM had walked away from a front-line partnership with Microsoft which would have made it Microsoft’s most favored OEM partner. The reason IBM walked away, said Norris, was because it would not drop its commitment to OS/2 – a rival operating system to Windows. The contention, if true, would be a clear breach of anti-trust laws.
But yesterday, Pepperman maintained that Norris had been mislead by other IBM executives. On joining IBM in March 1995, Norris had been briefed by Dean Dumbinsky, another IBM executive who was then dealing directly with Microsoft in Redmond. According to Microsoft, in a written presentation for another IBM executive, Sal Palmisano, Dumbinsky made no written reference to Microsoft’s demands, in the proposed 1994 agreement, that IBM drop OS/2 or promote Windows primarily or exclusively. Norris countered that some items in a briefing – especially those deemed sensitive – are not always written in the presentation, and that when Dumbinsky had briefed him of Microsoft’s 1994 demands it was verbal and not written down.
Microsoft maintains that IBM walked away from the deal in 1994 not because it could not accept Microsoft’s terms, but rather because executives at the highest level in IBM were set to compete with Microsoft head-to-head in the operating systems market by pushing OS/2. In an internal email, Joachim Kempin a senior Microsoft executive told Bill Gates that the new alliance had the backing of Tony Santelli, then general Manager at the IBM RS/6000 division, Bruce Claflin, then General Manager of the PC Company, and their immediate Boss Rick Thoman. Norris reported directly to all three IBM executives but said he was unaware of any backing from them for the 1994 deal.
If the three executives did back the deal it did not help its adoption. IBM’s highest decision making body, the Chief Executive Committee, which consists of IBM highest 13 executives, rejected the agreement. Instead, according to Microsoft, IBM decided to follow the IBM First strategy. This meant loading OS/2 on every IBM PC as well as offering and promoting its own products before those from Microsoft or any other vendor.
Microsoft is also set to point to IBM’s efforts to disparage Windows in a national advertising campaign while Norris worked to secure a contract to sell Windows on its computers. Microsoft argues that IBM’s work to keep Norris in the dark about other aspects of its intentions towards Microsoft, illustrates the bureaucracy within IBM as well as the complex relationship between the two companies, which worked closely as partners in some areas but remained bitter rivals in others.