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Microsoft scoffs at "sensational" DOJ case

Despite facing what it considers an anti-Microsoft bias in press coverage during its landmark antitrust suit, the software giant believes it has the upper hand.

Despite facing what it considers an anti-Microsoft bias in press coverage during its landmark antitrust suit, the software giant believes it actually has the upper hand, according to an internal memorandum sent to the company's senior executives by a member of its legal team.

In the email, which runs more than ten pages, David Heiner, a senior corporate attorney with Microsoft's Law and Corporate affairs, writes that some of the allegations of wrongdoing are quite "sensational" and have received most of the attention. But in a tone of supreme confidence, he adds: "Fortunately, lawsuits are decided on the basis of law and facts, not allegations and mere hearsay."

In lawsuits filed in May, the Justice Department and 19 states claim that Microsoft has leveraged its dominant Windows operating system to compete unfairly against Netscape Communications and other companies, like Sun Microsystems.

But in the Heiner email, which was sent March 3, the attorney claims quite matter-of-factly that competitors are supposed to compete and that "is what Microsoft has done."

"We are proud of the great job our platform developers have done building strong support for Internet standards into Windows," he wrote, adding similar sentiments about the company's work on Java.

A company spokesman confirmed that the memo was written by Heiner. The email was made public by James Love, the director of the Consumer Project on Technology, an organization that is critical of Microsoft.

Heiner writes that the only thing the government has been able to accomplish is to create "a lot of noise around various random incidents or pieces of email.

"Although these incidents have generated headlines, much of the evidence has been largely or even entirely irrelevant to any of the issues in the case," he added.

The memo is filled with a tone that shows a Microsoft team filled with confidence and devoid of any doubts that the company's legal assessment is airtight.

Heiner noted in his memo that much of the wrangling between companies that the Justice Department cited as coersion by Microsoft is nothing more than a reflection of "the intensity of competition with the software industry, routine interactions among computer companies, or internal discussions of ideas that were never implemented."

"Strong language, however, is not illegal," Heiner adds.

Heiner writes in his memo that the case is likely to continue through the courts for some time and the present trial is scheduled to resume no earlier than mid-April. The Microsoft legal team plans to present up to three more witnesses at the time.

Heiner concludes his memo brimming with confidence, saying that with "well-established legal principles" on their side, Microsoft "will prevail."