Compaq-MS murky secrets II – an analysis

We piece together the story of how these two lovable companies conduct their business


1 February 1997: In court, Boies produced an agreement between Compaq and Microsoft entered into on 1 February 1997. Rose said he had not seen it before, and it had not been shown to him by his legal team in his preparation for his appearance. He agreed with Boies that it was "a very important agreement".

The first point was: "Compaq agrees to exclusively promote Microsoft Internet Explorer." Decker said it had been signed, and that Compaq agreed to promote IE exclusively.

17 October 1997: Deposition for the previous contempt case, by Stephen Decker, Director of Software Procurement, Compaq. He testified that Windows 95 was preinstalled on 100 percent of the consumer line, although he was not personally involved in decisions to remove icons.

Q. Why did Compaq want to remove the Internet Explorer icon at that time?

Decker: At the time, we had a relationship with Netscape and we had been shipping their product for a while. And therefore Netscape was actually the browser partner and we wanted to give that position on the Compaq Presario desktop.

Q. How did Microsoft respond to Compaq removing the Internet Explorer icon from the desktop?

Decker: Well, when they found out about it, they sent a letter to us telling us that, you know, they would terminate our agreement for doing so. In court, Rose claimed that "Decker was a bit confused here". Boies read some additional parts of Decker's deposition into the record:

Q: Since that time, has Compaq changed the browsers that it preinstalls on its consumer PC lines?

Decker: Yes. We no longer preinstall Netscape because we - with the inclusion of Internet Explorer from Microsoft, that category is already filled because of the inclusion of that product as part of the operating system, and then also to actually license the additional browser that would involve both time by Compaq to put that particular agreement in place, we would have another product that would take up real estate on our hard drive and, you know, there potentially would be some additional licensing fees, and we would have to pay for that technology.


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