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Gates Denies Tallying Windows Customers

December 16, 1998| From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — In a lull between witnesses, the government Tuesday played videotape in court of Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates denying that his company regularly tracks how many customers use its dominant Windows operating system.

On the tape, government lawyers also asked Gates about a March 1994 e-mail in which an executive suggested that Microsoft's licensing of Windows to IBM Corp. "should be used to apply some pressure" to discourage IBM from selling a product from Lotus Development Corp.

The executive, Joachim Kempin, was responding to e-mail from Gates asking: "Why does IBM help Lotus so much? Is there anything we can do about this?"

Justice Department lawyer David Boies said the exchange showed that Microsoft's influence as producer of Windows was so powerful that it could exert pressure on a company as large as IBM.

Outside the courtroom, Microsoft noted that the e-mail was nearly 5 years old and that IBM eventually purchased Lotus and continues to sell the highly successful product, called Notes.

Spokesman Mark Murray also said Microsoft continues to license Windows to IBM at a "reasonable and competitive rate" despite the competition from IBM's own products.

In a related matter Tuesday in Boston, Microsoft lost a federal appeals court ruling over attempts to force two university professors to turn over notes from their interviews with executives at rival Netscape Communications Corp.

In Washington, the videotaped Gates rebuffed the government's attempts to lure him into discussing Windows' dominance among computer operating systems, insisting there is "not some unified effort" within his company to determine how many customers use Windows.

The next witness will take the stand Jan. 4.

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