New date for Microsoft trial?

A further delay in the antitrust suit against the giant is unlikely, observers say.

4 min read
Attorneys on both sides of the Microsoft antitrust case are gearing up for D-Day next Monday, the scheduled start of the trial in the historic action filed by the Justice Department and 20 states.

A federal judge on Friday delayed the trial, originally set to begin this Thursday, by four days. The software giant has requested an additional two-week delay, but it appears unlikely the motion will be granted.

At a pretrial hearing Friday See related story:
Microsoft's holy war on Java in Washington, U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson also ordered the company to give government investigators access to its sales and pricing databases. Both sides also finalized the list of witnesses who will testify at the trial, which is expected to last between four and eight weeks.

The database issue, which focuses on Microsoft's revenues from its original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), underscores the contentious debate between both sides.

Microsoft filed a motion Friday seeking an additional 14-day delay to prepare for what it said are new allegations in the trial. The trial was slated to begin October 15, but both parties agreed to postpone opening statements pending Judge Jackson's approval.

Microsoft trial witness table
Government witnesses

James Barksdale
chief executive, Netscape Communications

David Colburn
senior vice president of business affairs, America Online

David Farber
professor of telecommunications, Univ. of Pennsylvania

Franklin Fisher
professor of economics, MIT

Edward Felten
assistant professor of computer science, Princeton Univ.

James Gosling
vice president and fellow, Sun Microsystems

William Harris
president and CEO, Intuit

Steven McGeady
vice president of content group and health technology initiative, Intel

John Soyring
director of network computing services, IBM

Avadis Tevanian
senior vice president of software engineering, Apple Computer

Glenn Weadock
president, Independent Software

Frederick Warren-Boulton
principal, Microeconomic Consulting Research & Assoc. (MiCRA)

Microsoft witnesses

Bob Muglia
senior vice president for applications and tools, Microsoft

Eric Engstrom
general manager for multimedia, Microsoft

Richard Schmalensee
professor of economics and management, MIT

Paul Maritz
group vice president, platforms and applications, Microsoft

James Allchin
senior vice president, personal and business systems, Microsoft

Joachim Kempin
senior vice president, OEM sales, Microsoft

Brad Chase
vice president, developer relations and Windows marketing, Microsoft

Cameron Myhrvold
vice president, Internet customer unit, strategic relations, Microsoft

William Poole
senior director, business development, Microsoft

Daniel Rosen
general manager, new technology, Microsoft

John Rose
senior vice president and group general manager for enterprise computing, Compaq Computer

Michael Devlin
Rational Software

Earlier, both parties each substituted two new witnesses to their list of 12. The new government witnesses include James Gosling, vice president and fellow at Sun Microsystems and one of the founders of the Java programming language. Sun and Microsoft agreed to collaborate on the language, but the two companies have since squabbled over Microsoft's implementation of the code.

Government lawyers also plan to call on Apple Computer senior vice president of software engineering Avadis Tevanian.

Those additions, Microsoft said, indicate the government is plotting a different course with its strategy to prove the giant took calculated steps to maintain its monopoly for desktop operating systems.

Microsoft spokesman Mark Murray said the government is expecting the company to "fly blind" and additional time is necessary to conduct discovery.

"Microsoft does need to obtain documents from Apple and Sun to be able to depose and later cross-examine Tevanian and Gosling at trial," the company's lawyers wrote in a motion filed Friday.

"While Microsoft has made every effort to complete the discovery it needs within the short time provided, the government's last-minute maneuvering has left Microsoft with insufficient time to prepare for trial," Microsoft lawyers wrote.

Earlier on Friday, a Justice spokeswoman said: "We're ready to go."

Microsoft also had added two new witnesses Thursday, but Friday the company replaced them with Bob Muglia, the firm's senior vice president for applications and tools, and Eric Engstrom, general manager for multimedia at the company. Judge Jackson still must approve the substitutions but the government does not appear to object to the changes.

Microsoft's chief negotiator in the Java contract with Sun, Muglia will refute Java father Gosling's testimony. Meanwhile, Engstrom will be on hand to counter Tevanian's testimony, which is expected to cover the battle between the companies over Apple's QuickTime and similar Microsoft multimedia software.

"Two new issues and allegations were brought into this case with their new witnesses and we want to be able to refute those new allegations," Cullinan said. "This only reinforces our belief that the government continues to try to change the lawsuit that it filed back in May."

Microsoft's legal foes deny that.

"These are not new charges," said Marc Wurzel, spokesman for the New York Attorney General's office, the lead state in the lawsuit. "[Our new witnesses] will shed more light on the improper conduct that we allege in the lawsuit."

The Justice Department (DOJ) and 20 states filed a major lawsuit against Microsoft alleging the company has illegally maintained leadership in the OS market and that it is leveraging its Windows platform to gain monopolies in other markets, including Internet software.

Judge Jackson also ordered the software giant to turn over additional software tools that will allow government lawyers to extract information from Microsoft's sales and pricing databases. Cullinan said representatives for the plaintiffs will go to Microsoft's Redmond, Washington-based campus to access the databases in their native environment, using the same graphical user interfaces company employees use.

News.com's Dan Goodin contributed to this report.