Microsoft Vice President Robert Short took the stand in his company's remedy hearings yesterday, deflecting charges that Microsoft deliberately designed Windows to be incompatible with its competitors' software. Short, the fourth Microsoft executive to testify since Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates' media-friendly visit last week, said that complaints about interoperability from companies such as Novell, Red Hat, and Sun Microsystems are unfounded.

"I emphatically disagree with the suggestion that Microsoft deliberately introduces incompatibilities to prevent our competitors' software from working with our products," Short said during his testimony. He then listed several cooperative software interoperability projects that Microsoft has undertaken with its rivals. "Given these efforts, the notion that Microsoft 'retaliates' against software developers who do not do what Microsoft wants is completely unfounded."

Qwest Communications Vice President Gregg Sutherland bolstered Short's assertion when he explained to Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly that for Microsoft to exert its desktop PC dominance in new markets such as telephony and messaging would be impossible. According to Sutherland, earlier testimony from SBC engineer Larry Pearson, who alleged that Microsoft tried to crush his company's messaging efforts, was incorrect. "It couldn't happen," Sutherland told the judge.