Sanders: Microsoft testimony not a favor

AMD CEO Jerry Sanders counters charges that he testified on behalf of Microsoft in the antitrust trial to get the software giant to support his company's upcoming chip.

Michael Kanellos Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.
Michael Kanellos
2 min read
Advanced Micro Devices CEO Jerry Sanders countered charges that he testified on behalf of Microsoft in the antitrust trial to get the software giant to support an upcoming chip from his company.

"There was no quid pro quo," Sanders said during AMD's financial analyst call Wednesday. "We've been working with Microsoft on our X86-64 bit extensions for years now."

On Monday, Sanders appeared as a Microsoft witness in the antitrust trial originally brought by the U.S. Department of Justice but now being pressed by several states. Sanders strongly criticized the remedy proposals being forwarded by the states, especially one that would require Microsoft to sell different versions of Windows.

During cross-examination, Howard Gutman, an attorney for the states, created a cloud of suspicion that indicated that Sanders was appearing because Microsoft promised to support Hammer, an upcoming chip from AMD that can read both 32-bit software, like standard PC chips, and 64-bit software, like more complex server chips.

The chip would give AMD an advantage in the market over Intel, analysts have speculated, but Microsoft's endorsement is likely critical to mass acceptance.

Gutman told U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly that Sanders asked Microsoft to announce support for its chip technology, code-named Hammer, ahead of a competing product being developed at Intel.

"Mr. Gates said he would talk to his people about that," Gutman said of the Feb. 8 call by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates to Sanders.

"Yes," Sanders agreed. "I asked Mr. Gates to hold Intel to the same standard he held us to."

Sanders also admitted that he wasn't intimately familiar with many of the remedy proposals. Other witnesses, even those opposing Microsoft, made similar statements.

On Tuesday, Sanders said that his words in court on Monday were taken out of context. Sanders testified that he appeared in Washington as a favor to Microsoft, but he said it was a favor in that it was difficult to fit into his schedule. Sanders had to prepare for AMD's quarterly earnings call and the annual shareholders meeting, which takes place next week, as well as squeeze in a business trip to Japan.

"I was happy to testify for Bill. The reason it was a favor was because of the time," he said. "The favor wasn't to testify."

Sanders declined to state whether Microsoft would support Hammer, but predicted that the company would.

"We're highly confident that they will support this. We've given them samples, and they are running code on them," he said. "I'm highly confident that they will be supportive of our processor."