Torch the emails? Intel exec claims Gates considered it

But it seems saintly old Bill resisted Satan's temptation


Showing less than his usual prescience, the author of The Road Ahead seems to have mislaid his maps back in mid-1995. At a meeting with Intel executives that July, Bill Gates is claimed to have said: "This antitrust thing will blow over," and added that the battle with the DoJ so far meant that "we may change our email retention policies." Judging by the blizzard of emails the DoJ is using against it, Microsoft's policy on email retention does not seem to have changed, although in the Caldera case there have been some allegation of destruction of evidence. But if Bill really said this, the inescapable conclusion must be that he was thinking about torching internal communications which the DoJ might use against him later. The matter of email retention would certainly have had some piquancy in the context - Intel bosses Andy Grove and Dave House had previously been right-royally skewered by juicy Intel emails subpoenaed by AMD. But by 1995, even if Bill could bring himself to do such a thing, destruction of email probably wasn't an option. The consent decree with the DoJ was finally being settled, and although from Gates' point of view it might have looked like the whole thing was on the point of blowing over, if it didn't the discovery of vast lacunas in Microsoft's documentation would have gone hard for the company. Another interesting quote from the meeting (handwritten notes were taken by Intel VP Steve McGeady, who's currently testifying in the case) has Gates saying: "We haven't changed our business practices at all." So what could he have meant by this? The Consent Decree with the DoJ was signed that year, and although in the way of Consent Decrees it didn't actually constitute an admission that Microsoft had been doing anything wrong, there were things it was promising not to do, or to stop doing. For example: B. Microsoft shall not enter into any License Agreement that by its terms prohibits or restricts the OEM's licensing, sale or distribution of any non-Microsoft Operating System Software product. C. Microsoft shall not enter into any Per Processor License. . . E. Microsoft shall not enter into any License Agreement in which the terms of that agreement are expressly or impliedly conditioned upon: (i) the licensing of any other Covered Product, Operating System Software product or other product (provided, however, that this provision in and of itself shall not be construed to prohibit Microsoft from developing integrated products); or (ii) the OEM not licensing, purchasing, using or distributing any non-Microsoft product. . . . (iv) All OEMs with existing Per System Licenses, or Per Processor Licenses treated by Microsoft under Section IV (J). as Per System Licenses, will be sent within 30 days following entry of this Final Judgment in a separately mailed notice printed in bold, boxed type which shall begin with the sentence "You are operating under a Microsoft Per System License," and shall continue with the language contained in the first four quoted paragraphs below. All new or amended Per System Licenses executed after September 1, 1994 [NB the Decree was written in 94, signed in 95] shall contain a provision that appears on the top half of the signature page in bold, boxed type, shall begin with the sentence "This is a Microsoft Per System License," and which shall continue with the language contained in the first four quoted paragraphs below. There are obviously some changes necessary there, and no doubt they were all made in accordance with the Decree. So what Bill must have meant when he said 'no changes' was that the Decree was not a significant obstruction to Microsoft doing business the way it had always done business. He might also have meant that there were plenty of areas in the text where Microsoft could interpret it in such a way as to avoid having to make significant changes in the way it did business (e.g. the 'integration' thing). We certainly don't believe he was just ignoring it. No sir.®

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