Microsoft wants Caldera charges killed

Microsoft asks a federal court in Utah to dismiss many charges in a lawsuit filed by closely held Caldera, which accuses the software giant of anticompetitive behavior.

Microsoft said it asked a federal court in Utah to dismiss many charges in a lawsuit filed by closely held Caldera, which accuses the world's largest software maker of anticompetitive behavior.

Microsoft said it filed nine motions for partial summary judgment in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City. The case is scheduled for trial in June.

Caldera, a software company based in Orem, Utah, accuses Microsoft in a private antitrust lawsuit of trying to keep its DR-DOS operating system out of the marketplace. Microsoft says Caldera is recycling claims that the Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department reviewed before and decided had no merit.

"There is simply no factual basis for Caldera's claims," said Tom Burt, Microsoft associate general counsel.

Microsoft has been embroiled in a lawsuit with federal regulators and 19 states that accuse the software giant of using its dominance of the operating-system market to crush rivals in the fledgling Internet market.

Caldera, which makes operating-system software, acquired DR DOS from Novell, another Microsoft rival, in 1996. DOS operating systems control the basic functions of personal computers. Caldera is funded by Raymond Noorda, the former chairman of Novell.

Microsoft tried to debunk several Caldera claims in the nine motions.

Incompatible code
Caldera accuses Microsoft of intentionally designing the software code in its Windows 3.1 operating system so it's incompatible with DR DOS. Microsoft said the incompatibilities were the result of improvements to its software for the benefit of consumers.

Caldera also claims Microsoft intentionally announced product releases before they were ready or available, encouraging consumers to delay software purchases. Microsoft says unforeseen delays in product shipments occur regularly as companies test features and seek improvements.

It said the release of MS-DOS 5.0 slipped from late 1990 to June 1991 because of improvements, and projections were believed to be accurate at the time.

In another charge, Caldera has argued that Microsoft hurt sales of DR DOS by inserting a message in Windows 3.1 that said "non-fatal error" whenever the program was run on DR DOS.

Microsoft now argues that the message was only present in test versions of Windows 3.1 and seen only by a handful of testers, so it could not have hurt DR DOS sales. The message never appeared in the commercial version of Windows 3.1, Microsoft said.

The message also did not mention DR DOS by name, Microsoft argues, "so it is difficult to see how the message could have disparaged DR DOS."

Microsoft said it created the message only as a placeholder for another possible message that would have alerted users that the company would not ensure that Windows 3.1 would work on operating systems other than MS-DOS.

Copyright 1999, Bloomberg L.P. All Rights Reserved.

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