Special Caldera case report: Microsoft's smoking pistols

Compelling evidence underlies the judge's latest rulings


MS on Trial Microsoft's efforts to block key aspects of Caldera's antitrust suit have now almost entirely run into the sand. US District Judge Dee Benson issued a judgement denying a further four Microsoft motions. Microsoft has been trying for summary judgement of various parts of Caldera's case, but has scored straight zeros, and only has one shot left for the judge to rule on. In moving for summary judgement Microsoft has basically been asking the judge to rule that there is no case to answer. So by denying the motions, the judge is saying that Caldera has produced enough evidence to suggest that Microsoft may have violated antitrust law in each of the areas. The latest batch of rejections cover claims that Microsoft: created intentional incompatibilities in order to undermine DR-DOS; used spurious error messages to create the perception of incompatibilities, thus making it look as if DR-DOS was broken; excluded DR-DOS developers from the beta of Windows 3.1; and merged DOS and Windows into a single product, Windows 95, in order to destroy competition from DR-DOS and other competitors. The judge is therefore of the opinion that there is evidence that all of these happened, and much of that evidence is now in the public domain via Caldera's court filings and the latest rulings. Much of this evidence derives, as is the case in the DoJ's antitrust action against Microsoft, from subpoenaed Microsoft emails. There will be more of these to deal with when the full trial starts next year, but the current batch provides the usual fascinating insights into the Microsoft approach to business. They ruling also reveals what could ultimately turn out to be one of the worst decisions in the history of the computer business. At one time Microsoft proposed that DRI (Digital Research, which then owned DR-DOS) stop marketing DR-DOS and the companies cross-license each others' products, "DRI, uninterested in a long-term relationship with Microsoft, offered DR-DOS technology to Microsoft for $30 to $40 million. Microsoft refused." That looks like being a very costly mistake, if Caldera, inheritor of the DR-DOS torch, ends up walking away from the case with a 10-digit jury award, after damages are tripled. Next section: How MS destabilised DR-DOS via vapourware announcements


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