The Justice Department and 20 states suing Microsoft plan to turn up the heat on the company this week by pressing new allegations of predatory and monopolistic business practices, according to reports.
The new accusations could be filed as early as today and include evidence that Microsoft pressured chipmaker Intel to exclude software from rival Netscape Communications; that the software giant manipulated Windows so that it wouldn't work with competing products; and that it tried to divide the audio-video software market with Apple Computer, according to the Seattle Times.
The New York Times, however, reported that the government and states had not yet reached an agreement on what evidence to include and would discuss the plan this morning. Federal and state investigators are calling Microsoft chairman Bill Gates for a third session of pretrial testimony, while Microsoft may today also request U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson to dismiss the antitrust suit.
Gates was interrogated for nearly 17 hours Thursday and Friday at Microsoft's corporate campus in Redmond, Washington. The third session tentatively scheduled for Wednesday will also be held there.
In his videotaped testimony, Gates denied any wrongdoing in trying to capture the Internet software market. The government and states are accusing Microsoft of a collusion pact in which the company tried to force browser pioneer Netscape to divide the market for the browsing software, the New York Times reported.
According to the law, the government and states can only include new evidence in their case if it relates closely to the charges already presented. Jackson must determine what new evidence can be admitted before the trial which is scheduled to begin September 23.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has demanded "flame mail" messages from Netscape in an effort to embarrass its competitor in the antitrust trial, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Redmond has subpoenaed internal electronic forums run by Netscape employees, in which engineers vent their frustrations about everything from their competitors to the cafeteria food, the Journal reported.
The forums, known as "Bad Attitude," and another known as "Really Bad Attitude," are where a group of engineers posted hard-hitting messages about Netscape's products and workplace.
Microsoft may want to use these electronic messages to show that it was mismanagement or weak products that led to Netscape's declining share of the Internet browser market rather than Microsoft's alleged predatory and monopolistic practices, as the government charges, the Journal added.
The subpoena caught Netscape's engineers off guard because criticism was common on these electronic forums, which were not intended to be seen outside the company.