Microsoft: Back to the Browser Issue

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Is Microsoft stifling competition by bundling its browser along with its operating system? That hoary old chestnut was once again the focus at the software giant's antitrust trial Tuesday, but independent analyst Glenn Weadock did manage to put a new spin on an ancient allegation. Most businesses, he said, don't understand why Bill Gates marketed the two programs together -- and some feel aggrieved about it. "The more software a corporation has to take and cannot remove ties their hands," Weadock testified. "They're going to have to support it, maintain it, teach their users how to use it."

Microsoft lawyers had good reason to suspect that this witness -- who is paid $100 a day by the Justice Department -- is being less than objective. Aren't there any companies that prefer to get their Windows with added Explorer? Certainly, said Weadock. "My point is there are some that don't, and they have no way to get rid of it." This gets back to an old complaint Judge Jackson leveled against Microsoft back in 1997: Despite what Windows tells you, there's no way to disentangle and dump the Internet Explorer code. But the feds have been on relatively shaky ground here after an appeals court ruling last summer declared the bundling legal. That could explain why Weadock gets shuffled off the stand Wednesday in favor of another heavy-hitting Microsoft victim: IBM.