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Gates Draws Some Boos at Gathering

October 15, 1998|From Associated Press

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates was hissed by some software customers Wednesday as he defended his company's disputed practices in a last-minute public tour before the government's historic antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft goes to trial.

Meanwhile, a federal judge denied Microsoft's request to delay the trial for two weeks, meaning the courtroom fight will begin Monday. In a single-sentence ruling Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson denied the request without any explanation.

Gates drew the mixed response at a computer symposium after an industry analyst said many business software buyers feel they are forced to buy the latest Microsoft software at often high prices because of the way Microsoft designs its computer programs.

Gates insisted that most customers choose to upgrade because they want the new features. But some clearly disagreed among the thousands of corporate technology managers attending the computer symposium here.

"People like me are forced to upgrade," said Bill Schrier, speaking after Gates' talk. Schrier manages the telecommunications network used by Seattle's city government.

The issue is a key one in the government's case against Microsoft, which accuses the software giant of exploiting its monopoly in personal computer operating systems to crush software rivals. Microsoft adamantly defends its practices, which it contends actually bring consumers greater choice of software features at low prices.

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