Microsoft VP Paul Maritz--who answers only to Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer at the software giant--took to the stand Monday to be cross-examined in the historic Microsoft antitrust trial. Maritz, who is widely recognized as the one senior official at Microsoft who won't go ballistic at the drop of a hat, answered questions about Microsoft's investment in Apple Computer. The government charges that Microsoft invested in Apple so that the computer maker would preload its Internet Explorer, rather than Netscape Navigator, on Macintosh computers. Maritz denied this, saying that Microsoft's primary goal was to get Apple to drop a pending patent lawsuit.

"The subject of Internet Explorer was not raised in the negotiations that led to the August 1997 agreements until after the primary deal terms were worked out," Maritz said.

"We were concerned about getting our \[Web browser market\] share up. Out of necessity it would have to come by persuading our customers to use our platforms as opposed to someone else's," Maritz granted. "I was aware that Netscape was our principal competitor."

Government attorney David Boies then presented an email Maritz had written to Microsoft CEO Bill Gates at the time.

"I have two key goals in the Apple relationship--one, maintain our share on the platform and two, see if we could get them to embrace Internet Explorer in some way...it would require some real effort to get a deal, but I think it is possible," Maritz wrote.

Maritz answered that his job was to focus on technical issues, not legal matters