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Microsoft filing reveals details

The software giant's counterclaim to suits brought by 20 states offers some insight into its business tactics.

As expected, Microsoft denied any wrongdoing in a filing today that refuted antitrust charges against the company. But the document did offer some insight into the software giant's business tactics to become the "leading supplier" of Internet-related technologies.

For example, Microsoft admitted that some of its executives on occasion may have referred to the competition between Microsoft and rival Netscape Communications as a "browser war" or a "jihad."

Microsoft also admitted that "Micron, Compaq Computer, and Gateway at different times have inquired about the possibility of removing the Internet Explorer icon from the Windows desktop and were advised that they are not licensed to modify Windows in that way." (Gateway executives have complained publicly about this.)

Another disclosure: "Microsoft's agreements with ISPs in the Internet referral server at one time provided that, if an ISP failed to distribute Internet Explorer to a specified percentage of the ISP's new customers (typically 75 percent), then Microsoft at its option could elect to stop promoting the ISP's business by removing the ISP's subscriber information from the Internet referral server."

Microsoft contended, however, that it "did not police its agreements with ISPs."

As for the agreements, Microsoft said it has "recently modified its ISP agreements to eliminate many of the provisions that the DOJ subsequently challenged in the complaint." As reported, other agreements have been modified as well. The software giant, for its part, said its agreements are "consistent with industry practice."

Microsoft also said that it had entered into cross-marketing agreements with big Internet content providers such as Disney, Hollywood Online, and CBS SportsLine, but that despite their clout they "collectively account for a minuscule portion of the total content available on the Internet." In addition, the company pointed to a so-called "platinum" agreement with CNN.

Moreover, Microsoft disclosed that its "license agreements with OEMs require that the very first time an end user turns on a new computer on which the OEM has installed Windows, the Windows operating system be permitted to go through its full start-up sequence as designed by Microsoft."

On the Java front, Microsoft admitted that "the Java programming language can be used by software developers who chose to do so to write Java applets that can run on more than one operating system and Java applications that can run on more than one operating system, but only after additional development work is done specific to the Java Virtual Machines on which the developers wish their applications to run."

Redmond said it "avers on information and belief that such 'cross-platform' Java applications typically run more slowly and are less full-featured than Java applications optimized for a single operating system."