Gates Postponed

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WASHINGTON: Government lawyers handed Redmond a last-minute reprieve late Tuesday: They postponed a showing of Bill Gates’s prerecorded testimony until further notice. Microsoft’s lawyers complained that the videotape constituted an extra witness, violating an agreement to call no more than 12. And that was about the most successful argument the software giant could manage on another very tough day in antitrust court. The worst blow came when the feds displayed a mail from Dan Rosen -– who represented Microsoft at that crucial June 1995 meeting with Netscape. His priority, Rosen wrote, was to "establish Microsoft ownership of the Internet client platform for Windows 95." Microsoft lawyer John Warden had said Netscape must have "imagined" such an offer. Then again, Warden also claims the entire meeting was a sting concocted by the DOJ. "Any time a defendant says 'We were set up,'" said the government's lead attorney, David Boies, "I think that tells you how a trial is going."

At least one thing got resolved at the federal courthouse Tuesday: Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale stepped down from the witness stand after six days of witty one-liners and folksy banter. His parting shot: How the Microsoft-Apple deal, which made Internet Explorer the default browser on every Mac, made him feel. "It irritated the stew out of me," said Barksdale. In notes released by the Justice Department, Apple's chief financial officer says Apple was "dead" unless it made Explorer the default. The government’s next witness, Netscape cofounder Marc Andreessen, has a tough act to follow.