The written testimony of Microsoft VP Paul Maritz was released by the court on Thursday, setting the stage for his own cross examination in Microsoft's antitrust trial. Maritz joined Microsoft in 1986 and spearheaded the development of OS/2 before assuming responsibility for Windows in 1992. Today, he oversees the development of Windows, Office, and the company's software development tools. He is the highest ranking Microsoft official to appear in court.

According to Maritz, Microsoft faces competition at every level.

"Windows faces intense competition from many sources," Maritz says in his testimony. "Windows faces serious competition from a number of competing operating systems, including Linux, the various 'flavors' of UNIX, Apple's Mac OS, Be's BeOS and IBM's OS/2 Warp. Companies that compete in the UNIX space include such large entities as IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems, as well as a number of smaller firms."

Linux, however, is the real threat, says Maritz.

"The number of developers working on improving Linux vastly exceeds the number of Microsoft developers working on Windows NT," he says.

Maritz addresses many issues in his testimony that are sure to be questioned by the DOJ. For example, Maritz gives his explanation of why Microsoft would spend hundreds of millions of dollars developing Internet Explorer to only give it away for free.

"The relevant question is: Why did Microsoft add Web browsing functionality to Windows? The answer is: to make a better product," he says. "Microsoft has been improving its operating system products by adding new features and functionality for more than 15 years. It makes business sense to do so."

Maritz also discusses the cost of IE and how it will still pay for itself over time.

"As to the government's claim of 'below cost' pricing, the cost to develop the Internet Explorer technologies in Windows will undoubtedly pay for itself many times over. Microsoft's revenues from Windows 98 are approximately $3 billion annually. To recover its annual investment of roughly $100 million in Internet Explorer technologies, Microsoft needs to license only 3.5% more units of Windows 98 than would have been the case if it had not improved the operating system with such technologies. Given that many of the important enhancements to Windows 98 are made possible by Internet Explorer technologies, and given the popularity of Windows 98, it appears that Microsoft's investment in these technologies was a wise one."

Maritz will probably take the stand Monday