An IBM executive, taking the stand in the Microsoft antitrust trial this week, detailed secret meetings with the software giant where Microsoft officials told IBM to stop bundling the Netscape Web browser on its computers. Gary Norris used handwritten notes he took at the time to show Microsoft's tactics, which included raising royalty fees and delaying hardware configuration tests from the normal two weeks to 90 days.
Norris also detailed a meeting in early 1997 where Microsoft officials told the company that it would receive a "more favorable" Windows licensing deal if it stopped bundling all products that competed with Microsoft products, including IBM's own OS/2 and SmartSuite, which is sold under the Lotus name. And Netscape, well, Netscape was a no-brainer: Microsoft said it had to go.
"\[Microsoft's\] Bengt \[Akerlind\] was very specific: he said 'no Netscape,'" Norris testified. "The first thing Bengt said was, 'We have a problem if you load Netscape.'"
Microsoft, of course, says it did nothing wrong and didn't attempt to give IBM an unfair deal because of its software bundling practices. On Wednesday, company lawyers accused IBM of initiating a "smear campaign" against Windows 95 in mid-1995, but the tactic backfired when Judge Jackson lost patience with the lawyers and begin lashing out at them. At one point Jackson suggested that the questioning of Norris had gone on long enough.
"I'm not sure how much progress you have made so far, but we will leave that aside," he said. "But be economical with your examination \[from now on\]."
When the lawyer continued his line of questioning, Jackson abruptly put an end to it.
"I think we'll take the afternoon recess now," Jackson suddenly announced in the middle of a question, effectively cutting him off