Caldera unveils evidence in Microsoft case
- 29 April, 1999 22:00
In a 188-page statement of facts filed this week, Caldera Systems presents evidence it says supports its claims that Microsoft tried to eliminate DR-DOS as a rival to MS-DOS by illegally tying MS-DOS to Windows and misleading users into thinking DR-DOS and Windows were incompatible.
Caldera also claims that Microsoft used misleading product announcements, known as "vaporware," to dampen sales of DR-DOS, made false and misleading statements about DR-DOS to create uncertainty about the product and used "per-processor" and other exclusionary licensing terms to block out DR-DOS.
For example, the filing includes an internal Microsoft e-mail in which Phil Barrett, a senior engineer designing Windows 3.1 code writes: "heh, heh, heh ... my proposal is to have bambi (code name for work on Windows 3.1) refuse to run on this alien OS (DR-DOS 6). Comments? The approach we will take is to detect dr 6 and refuse to load."
The filing also presents evidence that Windows 95 was not an "integrated operating system" as Microsoft claimed, but a simple combination of Windows and MS-DOS, Caldera said. "Microsoft documents reveal that the company released Windows 95 as a single product to eliminate operating system competition from Novell (Inc.)," the company said.
Novell sold DR-DOS to Caldera in July 1996. That same month, Caldera filed its lawsuit against Microsoft. Caldera's claims date back to 1988, according to Bryan Sparks, Caldera president and chief executive officer.
Microsoft spokesman Jim Cullinan offered rebuttals to each of Caldera's claims.
First, the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. Court of Appeals considering the government's 1997 consent decree case against Microsoft admitted that Windows 95 and MS-DOS were not illegally tied together, Cullinan said. They separately agreed with Microsoft that Windows 95 was not an amalgam of MS-DOS and Windows 3.1, he said.
Secondly, Cullinan said that it was widely recognized that there were compatibility problems with DR-DOS and Windows. In addition, Microsoft never did anything to cause an incompatibility, but merely ran a "benign" message in a beta version of MS- DOS that said that Microsoft tested Windows on MS-DOS only and not on any rival operating systems, he added.
Cullinan also denied that Microsoft misled the public on its own development plans for Windows, saying delays in product releases are understandable and common, and denied that Microsoft made false and misleading statements about DR-DOS.
"There was a PR campaign by... Novell to replace MS-DOS, so certainly Microsoft responded," he said. "It's not anticompetitive to mention problems of a competitor's products. That's competition."
Furthermore, Microsoft offers a variety of licensees, and Microsoft offered the per-processor license after PC makers asked for it, according to Cullinan.
Meanwhile, Sparks at Caldera said he was glad to finally get some of the evidence in the case out into the open. Microsoft has been so heavyhanded with marking items "confidential" that this is the first time Caldera has been able to adequately present its side to the public, he said.
The judge has been denying Microsoft's requests in the last few weeks to seal documents, said Caldera spokesman Lyle Ball. Microsoft spokesman Adam Sohn would not say why Microsoft did not ask that the latest filing be sealed.
The filing, available to the public on Caldera's Web site at http://www.calderathin.com/, offers a chronology of evidence and exhibits. In the coming weeks, Caldera will file responses to nine motions for partial summary judgment, or partial dismissal of the case, filed by Microsoft. The first of a series of hearings on the motions is scheduled for May 25 in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City, Utah. The case is slated for trial on Jan. 17, 2000 before Judge Dee Benson.
As the Caldera case revs up, Microsoft is defending itself in an antitrust lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice in which the government claims Microsoft integrated its browser into Windows in a move to use its operating system hegemony to dominate the Internet market. That case is in recess until sometime next month.