Microsoft suffered a number of embarrassing, and potentially damaging trip-ups during its antitrust trial last week. On numerous occasions, the government’s lead attorney was able to expose serious inaccuracies in the software giant’s videotaped deposition that the Judge himself said cast serious doubts on the tape’s credibility as evidence. But perhaps the most serious slip […]
Microsoft suffered a number of embarrassing, and potentially damaging trip-ups during its antitrust trial last week. On numerous occasions, the government’s lead attorney was able to expose serious inaccuracies in the software giant’s videotaped deposition that the Judge himself said cast serious doubts on the tape’s credibility as evidence. But perhaps the most serious slip up was the admission, by a Microsoft official late Thursday, that the original video, which purported to show a live demonstration of lab tests, was actually just an edited illustration. During his four-day cross examination, Jim Allchin, Redmonds’ senior VP and technical expert, adamantly insisted that the original videotape was a live replica of tests he had done to show that the Windows 98 operating system was impaired once the browser functionality had been removed. Only after DOJ attorney David Boies was able to show inaccuracies in the video’s production – suggesting the company hadn’t run the removal program and had used more than one computer to carry out the tests – was Microsoft ordered by Judge Jackson to redo the tests under supervised conditions. Boies had issues with the way Redmond had carried out the tests, but both he, and the Judge, believed they were performed during a live demonstration. Yet, in a dramatic revelation during a press conference at the end of Allchin’s final day of cross examination, a Microsoft official, Mark Murray was forced to admit that the original video was using computers in a studio to illustrate the point that we had discovered in the laboratory, and was not, in fact, a live demonstration at all, as the company had claimed time and time again. The admission came about after intense press questioning over the company’s new videotape and the fact that it excluded a crucial speed test that Redmond claimed proved that separating the browser from Windows 98 slows down the performance of the OS. In the original video, the narrator performing the test highlighted the fact that it is taking a very long time….unusually long to load certain pages after IE had been removed. If the technicians had been able to show the degradation in the first tape, why then, didn’t they carry out the same test the second time round? Murray tried to mumble something about having to carry out the speed tests in laboratory conditions, but reporters were quick to remind him that Redmond had already stated the original tests weren’t performed in a lab, yet they showed the speed degradation clearly. It wasn’t until one reporter piped up and asked whether the first tape had been a dramatization or an actual demonstration that he was forced to admit the truth. Having inaccuracies in the videotape is one thing, but admitting the video was nothing more than a dramatic re-enactment of what it claims happened in a laboratory is another altogether; it effectively amounts to falsifying evidence. It remains to be seen what Judge Jackson will think when court reconvenes today. When it does, Microsoft’s William Poole, senior director of business development for Windows, will take the stand. Poole is expected to argue that Microsoft’s special cross-licensing deals with internet content providers were not intended to cut off distribution outlets for Netscape Communications Corp.