MS filing claims browser plans started in 1992

Spinning recommences as adversaries file last documents


MS on Trial Sources close to Microsoft have been spinning merrily again. It will file its summary antitrust defence with the court tomorrow, but mysteriously, extremely detailed leaks from the 400 page document started popping up everywhere yesterday. And we have a new ludicrous claim, apparently peddled to the press by a "company attorney," for the first surfacing of the notion of integrating the browser into the OS - in 1992, apparently. If this were true, it would certainly be helpful for Microsoft's defence, but the claim is more than a little undermined by the apparent difficulty Microsoft has had in nailing down one date and sticking to it, or indeed in producing supporting documentation. The spun filing that's leaking out now reportedly argues that the strength of Microsoft's defence is in the written evidence of its witnesses. Which is just as well, considering how comprehensively most of them were dismembered in court. But as we at The Register have in the line of duty been compelled to read most of this complacent and self-regarding turge, we are unable to agree that it constitutes any kind of solid foundation. Microsoft's execs mistook the trial for a marketing presentation, and their written testimony was largely flattened by a level of forensic examination they didn't expect. But back to those integration dates. Last year Bill Gates 'remembered' when the issue was first discussed, just before Netscape was founded (this is important to Microsoft) in April 1994. Characteristically he 'remembered' it as his idea: "Hey, let's put the browser in the OS!" he allegedly claimed. But the claimed timeline was cranked backwards in Jim Allchin's trial testimony (MS claims integration plans predate Gates' birth). Allchin humorously tired to co-opt the unveiling of the Microsoft Information at Your Fingertips "vision," which Gates unveiled in 1990, as browser integration evidence, and came up with a Steve Ballmer suggestion from December 1993 that Windows could be positioned as "a great front end to the Internet." But the nearest thing Allchin could come up with for a half-plausible early sighting was the claim that at a day-long technical meeting on 6th April 1994 the operating systems group decided that Word Wide Web support should be added to Windows 95. By May of the following year Bill Gates' Internet Tidal Wave paper was saying that "over time the shell and the browser will converge," but as far as we can see, that's just about the first documented integration statement from a high-level Microsoft exec, and it was made five months after Netscape shipped its first browser. Inevitably there will have been Microsoft employees talking about integration beforehand, maybe some ignored crazies jabbering about it as far back as 1992. Butt we remember 1992, and we remember Bill Gates in 1992. He'd just unveiled Windows 3.1, and during a rather dull presentation he touched on integration. But he was talking about Microsoft integrating the file manager and the desktop in the next version of Windows - it would be a couple more years before he even noticed the Internet. ® Complete Register Trial coverage


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