Microsoft chairman and CEO Bill Gates spoke out about his videotaped deposition on Monday, saying the government had told him it wouldn't be shown publicly. Gates' testimony has brought laughter in the court where it's been shown, largely at his performance, which has been poor. Gates says he thought that David Boies, the lead government trial counsel, would ask him questions about the history of Web browsers and competition in the computer industry.
"He did not focus on those things at all," Gates said, but asked him about individual emails that he received years ago. Given the amount of mail he receives, he can't be expected to remember each one. "I get over 10,000 pieces of mail every year."
As for his performance, Gates said he wasn't exactly enthusiast about talking to Boies.
"You have to understand that Mr. Boies made it clear, in the negotiations leading up to the case, that he is really out to destroy Microsoft," Gates said. "He was asking questions in ambiguous terms."
When asked whether he would testify at the trial, Gates said his company had no plans to call him before the judge.
"The government has the chance, and continues to have the chance, to call me as a witness," he said. "If they choose to call me as a witness, that's fine. I will be there and address any issues that they ask for."
Gates also took time to point out via satellite that Monday is a special anniversary for Microsoft: Three years ago on December 7th, Gates opened Microsoft's Internet Strategy Day with the news that the company was embracing the Internet in everything it did.
"On this day in 1995, we showed our customers and business partners that the Internet would be at the core of everything we did at Microsoft. We said the Internet was the wave of the future, and described how we already had begun to build Internet technology into virtually all of our products, to benefit both consumers and software developers," Gates said. "I guess someone thinks we did too well."
Gates made some good points about Internet Explorer and Web integration that put the government's case in perspective.
"When you stop and think, consumers aren't complaining about our Internet products: Our competitors are complaining. Consumers and software developers are seeing tremendous benefits from our commitment to the Internet," he said. "It's unfortunate that the government is listening to the alliance of IBM, Sun, AOL and Oracle and ignoring all the ways our efforts to help consumers have moved forward. You really have to ask yourself the question: Who is the U.S. government representing, a handful of competitors or the consumers?