Unsealed Caldera files detail MS evidence shredding claims

It's all over, but here comes the fallout


MS on Trial Evidence given under oath that Microsoft deliberately destroyed evidence that could be used in pending or forthcoming antitrust actions has finally come to light. Although its existence had been generally known, Microsoft has succeeded keeping it secret until now. But following an application by the Salt Lake Tribune, the San Jose Mercury and Bloomberg to unseal documents in the now-settled Caldera case, Judge Ronald Boyce released some of the sealed filings. Amongst the sealed pages were some extraordinary things: the lengths of golf course holes in China, photographs of a woman and an insect, published articles, and many blank pages. Caldera argued that the designations were "done by monkeys", but Microsoft protested that the purpose of these was to discourage other potential plaintiffs rather than the media. Boyce concurred with both viewpoints but unsealed most documents, noting that "Microsoft would have liked to have tried this case in secret... there are sharks circling out there, and this isn't going to be the only antitrust action that's going to be filed against Microsoft...". A deposition by Stefanie Reichel, then a Microsoft OEM account manager in Germany, is a key smoking pistol. She said that pressure had been put on her to destroy hundreds of emails that could have proved to be incriminating in the case brought by the DoJ, as well as by Caldera and others. Reichel had been an "uncooperative witness," and had hired a prominent LA lawyer to help her to resist attempts by the DoJ to gain co-operation. It was suspected that Microsoft was paying her legal bill. Juergen Huels, then in charge of Microsoft's German OEM accounts, was accused of telling Reichel to delete any "questionable" emails that could "be problematic" in an investigation. Huels physically removed the hard disks lest they be examined forensically, and they were evidently dumped in "graveyards in East Germany that no-one knows about". Huels changed jobs shortly afterwards and, bizarrely, went to work for Star Division as a VP for sales. The problem for Microsoft, one on which Ballmer was keeping a watchful eye, was that major German OEM Vobis preferred DR-DOS to MS-DOS. The only way that Microsoft could persuade Vobis to change was by agreeing to pay Vobis for the cost of the copies of DR-DOS that Vobis had, and to give Vobis favourable terms for MS-DOS. When the deal was agreed between MS OEM VP Joachim Kempin and Theo Lieven of Vobis, the DR-DOS authenticity holograms that Kempin bought were to be used to decorate his office, the deposition notes. Some details of Reichel's story were given shortly after Reichel's deposition in an article by Wendy Goldman Rohm in Red Herring, although she did not name Reichel. This incensed Microsoft, and resulted in Microsoft filing a contempt complaint against Caldera for allegedly leaking the deposition, which had been obtained from Reichel by Steve Hill, a lawyer acting for Caldera. Rohm also said that Gates gave a handwritten instruction saying "purge e-mail", but when Gates was confronted with this by DoJ lawyers, Gates' lawyers would not let him answer the question. Stephen Susman, the intended trial lawyer for Caldera, noted at the time that Microsoft was "seeking to hold us in contempt for things that I said at a deposition that I took of CEO Bill Gates... their theory is that anything that goes on in the conference room is covered." Hill said that Reichel had "produced a number of documents at her deposition that should have been produced by Microsoft" and that "she alluded to documents we've never even seen". Microsoft subsequently dropped the contempt claim. A complicating factor was that Reichel was Gates' girlfriend for a time (as was lawyer Bill Neukom, at the same time it seems) [We think Graham lost it here, but we left it in because it's funny - Ed]. Reichel left Microsoft to join the marketing team of the San Francisco Yacht Club's entry for the Americas Cup team, subsequently leaving to become VP of business development with freeshop.com, a Seattle Internet start-up. It had long been suspected that many documents that should have been produced had disappeared, but Reichel's deposition appears to be the only evidence of this given under oath. We previously related the stratagems that Microsoft used to get the Reichel deposition excluded from the Microsoft trial. There are potentially very serious legal consequences if, as appears to be the case, Microsoft interfered with the course of justice. It is known that the DoJ considered the matter, but we shall probably have to wait for the result of the trial before there is any decision about a separate criminal proceeding, although media and public reaction afterwards could play a role in influencing the decision. Since there is no statute of limitations for in such matters, the threat of a possible criminal action will remain. ® See also: Microsoft gets Caldera evidence excluded


Other stories you might like

  • Apple's latest security feature could literally save lives
    Cupertino is so sure of Lockdown Mode it's offering $2m to bug hunters to break it

    Apple's latest security feature won't be used by most of its customers, but those who need Lockdown Mode could find it to be a literal life saver.

    The functionality, coming with iOS/iPadOS 16 and macOS Ventura, dramatically shrinks an iDevice's attack surface by disabling many of its features. It's designed to protect the small number of Apple users who, "because of who they are or what they do, may be personally targeted by some of the most sophisticated digital threats, such as those from NSO Group and other private companies developing state-sponsored mercenary spyware," Apple said in a statement. 

    Lockdown, thus, effectively reduces the number of potential vulnerabilities spyware could exploit to compromise a device, cutting the possible routes into surveillance targets' kit.

    Continue reading
  • Has Intel gone too far with its Ohio fab 'delay' stunt?
    With construction unceremoniously underway, x86 giant may have overplayed its hand

    COMMENT The way Intel has been talking about the status of its $20 billion Ohio fab project, you would be forgiven if you assumed that construction on the Midwest mega-site has been delayed in light of Congress struggling to pass a large subsidies package that would support new American chip factories.

    When Intel delayed a groundbreaking ceremony for the Ohio manufacturing site two weeks ago out of frustration over the subsidies inaction, some headlines may have given you the impression the semiconductor giant was putting off construction entirely.

    However, an Intel spokesperson made it clear to The Register and others at the time that the start date for construction had not changed.

    Continue reading
  • Hive ransomware gang rapidly evolves with complex encryption, Rust code
    RaaS malware devs have been busy bees

    The Hive group, which has become one of the most prolific ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) operators, has significantly overhauled its malware, including migrating the code to the Rust programming language and using a more complex file encryption process.

    Researchers at the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) uncovered the Hive variant while analyzing a change in the group's methods.

    "With its latest variant carrying several major upgrades, Hive also proves it's one of the fastest evolving ransomware families, exemplifying the continuously changing ransomware ecosystem," the researchers said in a write-up this week.

    Continue reading
  • What do you mean your exaflop is better than mine?
    Gaming the system was fine for a while, now it's time to get precise about precision

    Comment A multi-exaflop supercomputer the size of your mini-fridge? Sure, but read the fine print and you may discover those performance figures have been a bit … stretched.

    As more chipmakers bake support for 8-bit floating point (FP8) math into next-gen silicon, we can expect an era of increasingly wild AI performance claims that differ dramatically from the standard way of measuring large system performance, using double-precision 64-bit floating point or FP64.

    When vendors shout about exascale performance, be aware that some will use FP8 and some FP64, and it's important to know which is being used as a metric. A computer system that can achieve (say) 200 peta-FLOPS of FP64 is a much more powerful beast than a system capable of 200 peta-FLOPS at just FP8.

    Continue reading
  • Meta's AI translation breaks 200 language barrier
    Open source model improves translation of rarer spoken languages by 70%

    Meta's quest to translate underserved languages is marking its first victory with the open source release of a language model able to decipher 202 languages.

    Named after Meta's No Language Left Behind initiative and dubbed NLLB-200, the model is the first able to translate so many languages, according to its makers, all with the goal to improve translation for languages overlooked by similar projects. 

    "The vast majority of improvements made in machine translation in the last decades have been for high-resource languages," Meta researchers wrote in a paper [PDF]. "While machine translation continues to grow, the fruits it bears are unevenly distributed," they said. 

    Continue reading
  • Tracking cookies found in more than half of G20 government websites
    Sorry, conspiracy theorists, it's more likely sloppy webdev work rather than spying

    We expect a certain amount of cookie-based tracking on retail websites and social networks, but in some countries up to 90 percent of government sites have implemented trackers – and serve them seemingly without user consent. 

    A study evaluated more than 118,000 URLs of 5,500 government websites – think .gov, .gov.uk. .gov.au, .gc.ca, etc – hosted in the twenty largest global economies – the G20 – and discovered a surprising tracking cookie problem, even among countries party to Europe's GDPR and those who have their own data privacy regulations.

    On average, the study found, more than half of cookies created on G20 government websites were third-party cookies, meaning they were created by outside entities typically to collect information on the user. At least 10 percent, going up to 90 percent, come from known third party cookies or trackers, we're told.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022