Microsoft Trial Hears from Gates
Nov. 09, 1998
WASHINGTON (AP) _ In videotaped testimony shown in court today, Microsoft's billionaire chairman, Bill Gates, denied that his company ever tried to discourage software efforts by its longtime partner in the high-tech industry, Intel Corp.
Gates, though, derided some of Intel's software efforts as of such low quality that they actually hindered Microsoft's popular Windows operating system.
``We thought the quality of their work was very low as well as not working with any of our new Windows work,'' Gates said. ``We may have suggested at some point that the net contribution of their software activities could even be viewed as a negative.''
Asked directly by Justice Department lawyer David Boies if he or anyone else at Microsoft had attempted to convince Intel not to engage in any software activities, Gates waited about 15 seconds before answering: ``No.''
Microsoft was expected to begin questioning Intel Vice President Steven McGeady later today.
The government contends that Microsoft, maker of the dominant Windows operating system, tried to illegally extend its influence in other areas to restrict competition, even trying to intimidate Intel, which makes the processors used by 85 percent of computers and had sales last year of $25 billion.
McGeady was expected to be asked about an August 1995 memo saying that Gates was livid about Intel's ``investments in the Internet and wanted them stopped.''
McGeady made the observation after a meeting among Gates, Intel Chairman Andy Grove and others during which ``Gates made vague threats about support for other (non-Intel) platforms.''
But Gates, in videotaped testimony taken last summer, denied knowledge of any Intel development of Internet software.
Although Microsoft and Intel have enjoyed a long partnership in the high-tech industry, they've also had disputes. One involved Intel's decision in 1995 to develop a new technology called Native Signal Processing, a technique to use instructions from Intel's chips, rather than software code from Microsoft, to run some programs more quickly.
The advantage of NSP for Intel was that it required faster computer chips, which would encourage people to buy new computers.
Gates complained then that Intel's NSP technology didn't work with his upcoming Windows 95, one of Microsoft's most important software products. After talks between Microsoft and Intel, Intel decided not to pursue NSP.
``Intel was wasting its money by writing low-quality software that created incompatibilities for users, and those negative experiences weren't helpful for any goal that Intel had,'' Gates said on the videotape shown today.
Intel executive Andy Grove said in a 1996 interview with Fortune magazine: ``I admit we were dumb enough not to understand that the software we developed was actually contrary to some of the features of Windows 95. ... We basically caved.''
Government lawyers questioned Gates over three days last summer at Microsoft's headquarters near Seattle. They have previously indicated they plan to show on video during the trial about eight of the 20 hours of interviews.