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Microsoft Cuts 8 People From Witness List

April 30, 2002|From Bloomberg News

WASHINGTON — Microsoft Corp., citing "shortcomings" in nine states' proposals for tough antitrust remedies, Monday dropped eight people from its roster of defense witnesses it planned to call.

Four Microsoft executives, including Senior Vice President Richard Fade, and representatives from four other companies, will not be called to testify against the states' proposals, Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler said. Chief Executive Steve Ballmer and Group Vice President Jim Allchin are still on the company's list of eight potential witnesses.

Microsoft's decision to trim its witness list came as hearings on the states' proposals entered their seventh week before U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in Washington.

The company raised the possibility that the hearings might end next week.

The company cut the witness list "after reviewing the progress made so far" and "what we believe are shortcomings in the states' case," Desler said.

The states, led by California and Iowa, also are challenging a proposed settlement of the 4-year-old antitrust case between the Bush administration and the world's largest software maker.

Fade, one of those dropped from the list, acknowledged in questioning before the hearings' start that Microsoft would benefit from the settlement by gaining the ability to force computer makers to surrender patent rights.

Representatives of Best Buy Inc., Charter Communications Inc., August Capital and Avanade Inc. will not be called to testify, Desler said.

Earlier Monday, a Qwest Communications International Inc. executive, Gregg Sutherland, called by Microsoft to rebut testimony supporting the states' remedies, acknowledged that he didn't know about the software giant's business plans.

Shares of Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft rose 74 cents to $52.24 on Nasdaq.

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