The videotape testimony of Microsoft CEO Bill Gates might get pushed back a few days as Microsoft attorney John Warden shows no sign of letting up on the current witness, AOL executive David Colburn. Warden accused AOL and Netscape of attempting to divide the online market by combining their resources to stave off competition from the Microsoft Network. In 1995, it was revealed this week, Netscape and AOL attempted to create a partnership aimed at fighting Microsoft.
"We can use our unique respective strengths to go kick the s&*t out of the 'beast from Redmond' that wants to see us both dead," said Netscape's Mark Andreessen, according to AOL CEO Steve Case. "By teaming up, we substantially increase the odds of beating them."
"In your various meetings with the Department of Justice to suggest that they go after the beast from Redmond, did you disclose that you made a market division proposal?" asked Warden.
"Your wording, not mine," answered Colburn, who said that the relationship between AOL and Netscape dissolved rapidly. AOL feared that Netscape would enter the online market on its own, and it chose Microsoft's Internet Explorer, instead of Netscape, as the default AOL browser. It didn't want to become an entryway to Netscape.
Depending on who you talk to, AOL chose IE because it was componentized (and therefore easier to integrate into their own software) or because Microsoft gave them an offer they couldn't refuse: Space on the Windows desktop. "AOL would not have been willing to negotiate a browser license with Microsoft" had the desktop space deal been made, Colburn said. "It was a close call on the technology, but what put it over the top was the distribution on the desktop" However, AOL CEO Steve Case tells a different story.
"From a pure technology standpoint, it does look like Microsoft may win this \[licensing deal\]," Case wrote in a January 1996 email to Colburn. AOL executives weren't sure Netscape would be able to componentize its browser quickly enough (indeed, they still haven't accomplished this goal two years later)