Partners stick up for Microsoft

With the federal government accusing Microsoft of anti-competitive, bullying tactics, a handful of the software giant's partners have vouched for the company and its integration of Internet Explorer into the Windows operating system in documents filed in federal court. Microsoft was stung two weeks ago when the US Department of Justice released depositions from officials at Compaq, Gateway 2000 , and Micron to bolster its case that Microsoft forced companies to bundle the browser as a condition of licensing Windows. Microsoft hit back by releasing 10 'third-party declarations' on Tuesday, along with its formal response to the government's charge that it has violated the 1995 consent decree.

With the federal government accusing Microsoft of anti-competitive, bullying tactics, a handful of the software giant's partners have vouched for the company and its integration of Internet Explorer into the Windows operating system in documents filed in federal court.

Microsoft was stung two weeks ago when the US Department of Justice released depositions from officials at Compaq, Gateway 2000 , and Micron in hopes of bolstering its case that Microsoft forced companies to bundle the browser as a condition of licensing the popular, prevalent Windows OS.

By releasing 10 "third-party declarations" on Tuesday along with its formal response to the government's charge that it has violated the 1995 consent decree, Microsoft hoped to blunt the accusations that it has stifled competition.

"Based on consumer customer demand, we would not want to ship a personal computer system that did not include the most recent and advanced Internet browser," said John T. Rose, senior vice president and group general manager of enterprise computing at Compaq. "Based on our current understanding of the market, Internet Explorer meets these requirements."

The Houston-based PC manufacturer pre-loads Explorer on commercial desktops, portables, and consumer products, and pre-loads Netscape Communications' Navigator browser on its Armada 1500, 4100, 7300, and 7700 portable product lines, Rose testified.

"The fact that the Internet Explorer technology in Windows 95 includes a Web browser would not diminish our willingness also to install a different Web browser, such as Netscape Navigator, if we believed there was sufficient customer demand for it," Rose stated.

Tim Krauskopf, a co-founder of Spyglass Inc., echoed Microsoft's claim that integrating Web functionality into the operating system is a natural industry progression. He said Spyglass decided never to sell Mosaic, the first graphical Web browser, because the company determined that it was an embedded technology, not a stand-alone product.

"It makes sense as a matter of software design to include Web browsing technology as part of any modern operating system," said Krauskopf, who also was lead developer of the Telnet Internet software program at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Mike Devlin -- president of another close Microsoft ally, Rational Software -- said in his deposition to federal Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson that many Rational tools rely upon system services provided by Internet Explorer for functions such as network connectivity, and HTML parsing and rendering.

"These services are incorporated with our development tools just like many of the other operating system services which Windows provides ... the systems services Microsoft includes under the umbrella name of Internet Explorer are fundamentally operating systems services," Devlin testified.

A representative from another PC manufacturer, Packard Bell NEC, stated that Microsoft's hold on the OS market with Windows did not dissuade it from pre-installing other browsers.

"The presence of Internet Explorer does not have any effect on the operation of Netscape Navigator," said Mal Ransom, senior vice president of marketing. "Whether or not we license and install Navigator, therefore, is a decision we base on whether we perceive sufficient customer demand."

Also submitting depositions in favor of Microsoft were Mazin Ramadan, technical evangelist with InstallShield Software; J.J. Allaire, executive vice president of Allaire; Jesse Boudreau, president and CEO of Pictorius; and Steven Holley, Richard Urowsky and Andrew Hruska, New York lawyers who represented Microsoft in the consent decree negotiations.

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