Placing the blame of Microsoft's court case settlement squarely on the press, CEO Bill Gates lashed out at the media this week. He said that the ridicule Microsoft received at the hands of the press for offering a crippled version of Windows to OEMs was unfair. The remarks came at a meeting with the press at which Gates was visibly upset.
"I'd be glad to explain to you how disappointed I was at the way we were portrayed. \[The press coverage\] was a sideshow. The judge heard the government witness come in and say that he had no idea of any other way to comply with \[the order barring Microsoft from forcing the bundling of IE with Windows\]."
Gates was asked whether negative press portrayal forced him to settle the dispute.
"I think so. We did exactly what the order said to do; there was no freedom or flexibility. We went as far as to say what version of Windows that you could delete these files from and it will still run. It turns out it's the retail version that sells hundreds of thousands of copies a month. And what did people say about that?"
Gates spent a lot of time defending David Cole, who was Microsoft's technical representative in court. Cole was beaten up pretty badly by the DOJ lawyers.
"David Cole...\[is\] the most sincere, straightforward person you will ever meet...\[and the way he\] has been cast in the press is really unbelievable. Cole is an honest person, and he came up with a plan on how to comply with that order reading the plain English. There isn't any flexibility in there at all. It says, 'Remove the retail IE files.'"
Gates sees the case as innovation vs. government regulation of the software industry.
"This is a novel lawsuit, and we're sticking up for innovation. We're sticking up for the ability to put new features into our products. What you have here is, basically, the U.S. government saying our products are too capable. They're trying to get us not to support the Internet in Microsoft Windows. It's pretty straightforward. Yes, it's surprising, but it's pretty straightforward. So I'll tell my lawyers to defend our ability to do Windows 95, to do Windows NT, to do speech recognition. Observers of the legal process may or may not get confused about what goes on there, but I have asked them to defend that, because I think it's not only important for Microsoft, I think it's important for users of personal computers.