Microsoft's defense in its upcoming antitrust trial will depend in large part on whether the company can prove that it began work on integrating Internet capabilities into Windows before Netscape was created.
The software giant, which had a court date yesterday to iron out pretrial differences with the US Department of Justice, will point to internal documents and other information in a response to the lawsuit. The response must be filed by Monday.
"We have been saying all along that we were working on these technologies well before Netscape was even started, and before they had shipped a product," said Microsoft representative Adam Sohn.
On April 6, 1994, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates outlined plans to build Internet access technology into Windows at a retreat for about 20 company officials, Sohn said. That was two days after Mountain View, California-based Netscape was founded.
"That retreat was the result of some people starting to think about this months before that," Sohn said. "The meeting was a result of that original thinking. We didn't just sort of wake up and see a company called Netscape and rush to the plate."
Among the internal documents Microsoft will offer as proof is a Jan. 25, 1994, memo from developer J. Allard, who called Windows "the next killer application on the Internet." Another memo, from developer David Pollon, stated that "PC users will adopt Windows as their interface on the Internet."
Memos with similar themes from Steve Ballmer, now Microsoft's president, and Brad Silverberg, who headed up Windows 95 development, also will be offered.
The defense is shaped to contradict the government's claims that Microsoft has integrated its Internet Explorer browser with Windows, the industry's dominant operating system, in an effort to crush Netscape and other rivals. The proof Microsoft will offer is dated well before Microsoft's famed Dec. 7, 1995, event where Gates and others said they finally "got" the Internet.