Let's Go to the Gates Tape

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WASHINGTON: So you thought sitting through Bill Clintonís four-hour deposition was a mind-numbing experience? You quite literally havenít seen the half of it. Get ready for a mammoth eight hours of testimony from software titan Bill Gates. The Justice Department plans to play that amount of extracts when the antitrust trial reopens next week, and whatever they air in the courtroom goes straight into the public domain. And if you dread the prospect of the Microsoft mogul dominating your TV screen in the same way he dominates your PC, just be glad the feds arenít releasing all 20 hours of tape -Ė yet.

The bulk of the eight-hour epic is said to deal with Gatesís role in that vital June 1995 meeting with Netscape, when he allegedly made an illegal offer that the two companies divide up the browser market between them. The government scored some success in its opening arguments Monday by showing relatively minute scraps of Gatesís testimony to be entirely at odds with memos he wrote at the time; evidently, we can expect a more detailed recounting next week. For Microsoft, of course, this is all an attempt to "demonize" its "innovative and visionary" boss man. But for the rapidly dwindling and highly disillusioned audience at the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse, it seems more like a good excuse to stay home -Ė and catch it all on cable.