Having significantly broadened its antitrust case against Microsoft in recent weeks, the US government will this month charge that the software giant bullied several technology companies in its quest to dominate the industry.
The US Department of Justice and 20 state attorneys general, which filed suit in May charging Microsoft with antitrust violations, have secured reams of documents from Intel, Sun, Apple, Caldera, RealNetworks, and other companies in their quest to to show that the company has pressured friend and foe alike, according to sources close to the investigation.
Government officials reportedly have memos detailing an August 1995 meeting between Intel Chairman Andy Grove and Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, during which time Gates made "vague threats" to form an alliance with Intel's competitors unless Intel shelved its plans to invest in Internet-related technologies and businesses.
It is unknown how closely Intel is cooperating with the government in its newest investigations into Microsoft's activities.
The government also is pursuing claims against Intel for alleged antitrust violations.
During the August 1995 meeting between Gates and Grove, Gates reportedly called for Intel to stop development of native-signal processing software for multimedia applications. Microsoft executives were concerned about Intel's interest in including Internet features and, in particular, support for Java, which runs on any operating system. Microsoft viewed that support as a threat to the dominance of Wintel, and a boon to Sun's Java.
Meanwhile, a book that is set for publication by Random House on Sept. 8 -- ironically, the date the Microsoft/Department of Justice antitrust file originally was scheduled to begin -- likely will further sully Microsoft's reputation.
According to The Microsoft File: The Secret Case Against Bill Gates, Microsoft executives plotted to ensure that Windows 3.1 would fail if the operating system detected DR DOS, which Digital Research made and later sold to Caldera. The executives discussed blaming Digital Research for the crashes, according to the book.
"Maybe there are several very sophisticated checks so competitors get put on a treadmill," David Cole, Microsoft vice president, wrote in 1991 to other officials.