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The week in review: An ugly software fight

The landmark Microsoft antitrust trial resumes next week but the fur was already flying this week. HP, meanwhile, closes in on a new CEO.

The landmark Microsoft antitrust trial resumes next week but the fur was already flying this week.

In a deposition, IBM exec Garry Norris detailed an ugly software fight between Microsoft and IBM back in 1995. Ultimately, Microsoft quintupled royalties for IBM to $220 million after the company surprised Bill Gates by refusing to drop a rival operating system, Norris testified.

A tangled Web
Norris, who will be a key rebuttal witness for the government when the trial resumes, answered questions from Microsoft lawyers for three hours under oath.

The questioning elicited bits of a tangled story about a bitter falling out among the two giants of the computer industry.

Speaking of the hot seat, HP appears to be closing in on a new CEO. Hewlett-Packard expects to announce its new chief executive in about a month, a company executive said, and the new leader will likely come from the high-tech industry.

The new CEO is a key part of the company's reorganization into two separate companies, the larger one to focus on computing and imaging and the smaller to take over test and measurement operations.

Two former America Online volunteers filed a class-action lawsuit this week in hopes of receiving compensation for their work.

The plaintiffs, Kelly Hallisey of Nassau County, New York, and Brian Williams of Dallas, allege that AOL violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by using volunteers to perform work for the company. The federal law mandates that a minimum wage be paid to employees.

Irate over e-rate
And it should be good news for schools and libraries that a federal subsidy program for Net hook-ups got a nearly $1 billion increase this week. But despite the windfall, the "e-rate" still faces heavy criticism.

A partisan political battle over the program won't let up, and the e-rate has irked some major long distance companies, which support the program financially through money they collect from customers and then contribute to the nation's Universal Service Fund.

Moreover, many schools--which the program is supposed to benefit--have found themselves knee-deep in e-rate bureaucracy over the past two years.

Also of note
Gates expanded again, this time at home, as Rory John Gates came into the world...Legions of Star Wars fans flocked to theaters last week to catch the latest installment of George Lucas's saga, but on the Internet rumors already are flying about the next chapter--not due until 2002...Intel cut chip prices again, and AMD plans its counterattack.