Microsoft Courtroom Bloopers Splice Up Trial

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Oh, come on now. Microsoft has been accused of many things -- muscling in on distributors, misleading government lawyers, releasing Windows NT 2000 -- but never out-and-out fakery. Until Tuesday, when government lawyer David Boies stopped a video of Windows 98 in action to point out a subtle change in the title bar at the top of the screen. The blip shows, Boies said, that Microsoft had altered a demonstration aimed at proving Windows 98 worked poorly once you took out Internet Explorer. Was Microsoft trying to pull a fast one? "They probably filmed it, grabbed the wrong screen shot," an embarrassed MS senior veep James Allchin told the judge. "What's on the screen is the truth. Obviously, there were mistakes done there."

Obviously. In testimony over the past few days, Redmond has all but conceded one of the underpinnings of its case, that Internet Explorer is inseparable from the Windows operating system. The case was further hurt with the news that the company itself referred to IE as a standalone product in a patent granted in August of last year. And despite a bevy of high-powered defense lawyers, Microsoft has been making more mistakes than you would expect for a company with its very existence on the line. "I've been surprised by the weakness of Microsoft's defense," says TIME assistant managing editor Philip Elmer-DeWitt. "They're kind of walking through this trial, hoping to win on appeal." Bill Gates had better hope his lawyers remember their A-game by then -- or at least get better production values.