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Witness says IE bundling not an improvement

Testimony released by a government witness in the software giant's ongoing antitrust trial says the bundling of Microsoft's Internet Explorer with Windows provides "few real-world benefits."

Bundling Microsoft's Internet Explorer with Windows provides "few real-world benefits and several significant real-world costs and risks" for corporate customers that do not standardize on the browser, according to testimony released today by a government witness in the software giant's ongoing antitrust trial.

The written testimony by Glenn Weadock, president of Golden, Colorado-based Independent Software are being used to bolster the case being brought against Microsoft by the Justice Department (DOJ) and 20 states. Microsoft today called Weadock's findings "ill-informed."

"Managers at many organizations (among them ConAgra, Morgan Stanley, Dean Witter, J.C. Penney, Playboy, Florida Department of Revenue, Boeing, and GE Supply) have told me that they value the flexibility to make browser decisions independently from operating system decisions," Weadock wrote in his testimony. "No corporate PC manager, in fact no one outside of the Microsoft organization, has ever described a Web browser to me as operating system software or part of Windows 95 or any other operating system."

Weadock went on to say: "The forced inclusion of Internet Explorer with Windows 98 or Windows NT 5.0 forces organizations to either forego new technology, incur the costs of supporting two browsers or removing the unwanted one, or alter their choice of browsers."

According to the testimony, American Airlines, for example, is moving to Windows 98 and switching from Netscape Navigator to Internet Explorer, in part "because it sees some potential benefit?but also in part because it recognizes that it has no choice."

Weadock said the DOJ asked him to provide consulting services regarding Windows 95 and IE starting in October 1997. He said his testimony relies on his 16 years of experience in the computer industry; conversations with Windows software developers; and summaries that DOJ representatives have conducted of corporate PC managers; among other experiences.

His arguments mirror those made by many other Microsoft critics.

In a statement, Microsoft said "The government has handpicked companies and individuals which support its claim?and it is these Mr. Weadock has talked to. The government is handing Mr. Weadock a stacked deck that can lead only to an ill-informed conclusion supporting its groundless claims."

"The Court of Appeals ruled last summer that in fact this type of integration should be allowed as long as there are benefits to the consumer." Microsoft said companies such as Dell, Monsanto, Siemens, Nabisco, Toyota, and Merrill Lynch "are but a few examples of the major companies that have embraced the Windows platform."

In a separate development, a group of economists in the Bush and Reagan administrations, including two former chairmen of the Federal Trade Commission, today released a letter backing the inquiry into Microsoft.