Bill Gates gives first day of testimony in Novell-WordPerfect trial

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates found himself answering questions in a court of law today. The Associated Press (via Google) reports that Gates came to Salt Lake City, Utah to testify in the current case between Microsoft and Novell. As we have reported before, Novell has filed a lawsuit against Microsoft, claiming that Microsoft deliberately delayed the release of its Windows 95 operating system in the 1990s in order "to suppress the sales of WordPerfect and Novell's related office productivity applications."

In his testimony today, Gates said that Microsoft dumped an unnamed feature from Windows 95 because of fears that it would crash the operating system. This deleted feature would have allowed Novell's WordPerfect to operate in Windows 95. Gates said that the company had to make "trade-offs" in order for Windows 95 to work. Gates also said of Windows 95's development, "We worked super hard. It was the most challenging, trying project we had ever done." Gates also claimed that Microsoft's own Word program was ranked to be better than WordPerfect by 1994, calling it an "important win" for the company. Gates is expected to continue his testimony on Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Frederick Motz also decided to deny Microsoft's motion on Friday to dismiss the case entirely, calling the claim groundless. Novell still maintains that Microsoft tried to muscle out WordPerfect and claim a monopoly on the word processor business with Microsoft Word. It is asking for between $500 million to $1.2 billion in its lawsuit against Microsoft.

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23 Comments

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This is the most B.S. case I've ever heard of... However, having worked somewhere til recently, where Novell was my biggest (best-spending) client: after the Attachmate buyout, I get the strong feeling they're a bit strapped for cash right now...

This is the legacy stuff that made people hate and mistrust MS.
Since then they have learned how to play the game better, in order to retain customers and investor support.

The MS of the present and future will have a long way to go to shed this tarnish from their image.

Quoting another users post from the original article that start a couple days ago

The crazy thing is that in 1990, Microsoft begged Wordperfect and Lotus and Novell for products for Windows and better interoperability.

Wordperfect and Lotus told MS to go pound sand, as they had the market and assumed Windows 3.0 was a short term fad.

Wordperfect also didn't want to abandon all their work with printer drivers, which is what helped them keep their market. Moving to Windows meant they no longer had to write for specific printers. However, Wordperfect when they finally did attempt a Windows version, they bypassed a lot of internal systems in Windows, with the Printer engine being one of them, resulting in horrible printing options and problems for Wordperfect for Windows.

Microsoft's Word commitment to Windows was rather lackluster in the company, as they assumed Wordperfect and others would still remain the leaders and Word would primarily be a Mac product. When Wordperfect gave Microsoft the finger, Word development for Windows was increased as Microsoft knew from the Macintosh, a powerful Word processor was key to product viability, which Word played a role in for the Mac as well.

Wordperfect's claims about APIs and derailing are borderline hyperbole, as some had nothing to do with Word or Wordperfect. Also part of the 'derailing' Wordperfect claims comes from them bypassing the Windows Printer Engine, and the problems Wordperfect ran into by doing this.

Word 6 was indeed a much better product than Word 2 and when it came out I switched from WordPerfect to Word 6. It was fun how MS jumped straight from V2 to V6 to match the, at the time, current release of WordPerfect that was labeled V6 too.

It took me longer to switch from Quattro Pro to Excel but the integration among MS productivity programs kept getting better and better and, at the end, I switched to Excel too.

The good old times.....................

Fritzly said,
Word 6 was indeed a much better product than Word 2 and when it came out I switched from WordPerfect to Word 6. It was fun how MS jumped straight from V2 to V6 to match the, at the time, current release of WordPerfect that was labeled V6 too.

Actually they went to 6.0 because they wanted to unify the version numbering with the DOS version of Word.

Enron said,

Actually they went to 6.0 because they wanted to unify the version numbering with the DOS version of Word.

Yes that was one of the explanation some people gave, MS instead explained that they did it to get aligned with the MAC version which went all the way up in numbering skipping only V2; regardless......it was very convenient that it also matched WP numbering; in fact Excel did not follow the same pattern.
Btw I do not see a problem with that: marketing is a very important factor in boosting sales and matching your main, and at the time predominant, competitor make a lot of sense.

Ahh those days....Windows 95, 98SE...memories and nostalgia....I remember how excited I was to re-install Windows 95, 98 and get the sound to work, MSCDEX and CD-ROM support from DOS, typing "win" on the command line...Thank You Bill Gates. Editing config.sys and autoexec,bat. At time I also heard about Linux and Red Hat. I remember using Red Hat 5.2 I think it was with fvwm95 (I think that's what's called) window manager.

rwx said,
Ahh those days....Windows 95, 98SE...memories and nostalgia....I remember how excited I was to re-install Windows 95, 98 and get the sound to work, MSCDEX and CD-ROM support from DOS, typing "win" on the command line...Thank You Bill Gates. Editing config.sys and autoexec,bat.

Oh yes, virtual memory tinkering .. the joys of the past

If I recall correctly, MS just got out of the whole limitations-to-prevent-monopolization lawsuit thing put on them for ten years. This crap wasn't brought up before, why? *facepalm*

He is right. Word 6.0 was beating WordPerfect 6.0 (for DOS and Win) and Lotus Ami Pro so badly in those years.

Heck, I (as a junior HS student) switched from my pirated WordPerfect 5.1 to my pirated Windows 3.11 for Workgroups and Word 6.0 and never looked back.

Brian Miller said,
Anyone want to guess what the dropped feature was?

I'd love to know too. Outside of ".exe support", I don't see how they wouldn't be able to work out a way to get their software running on Windows 95...

kryten said,
Another gold digger. What does the statute of limitations say about this?

I normally would agree with you, but after reading more about evidence in the Netscape vs. Microsoft trial, I could completely see MS doing a move like this. This was around the same time as that happened too, so that makes it even more likely.

Trueblue711 said,

I normally would agree with you, but after reading more about evidence in the Netscape vs. Microsoft trial, I could completely see MS doing a move like this. This was around the same time as that happened too, so that makes it even more likely.

Indeed. I feel fairly split. Novell are on their backsides really these days so it doesn't surprise me that they're taking to litigation in the hopes of making money. But then Microsoft were at their very worst around then... so nothing would surprise me.

I just don't understand why it's taken them 16 years to make a case?

Chicane-UK said,

Indeed. I feel fairly split. Novell are on their backsides really these days so it doesn't surprise me that they're taking to litigation in the hopes of making money. But then Microsoft were at their very worst around then... so nothing would surprise me.

I just don't understand why it's taken them 16 years to make a case?

This. I think more than anything, this is what turns me off from the whole case and makes me lean more towards the potential that this is groundless. If it weren't, they would have sued looooooooong ago.

kryten said,
Another gold digger. What does the statute of limitations say about this?
I couldn't disagree more. A company that is alleged to have broken the law shouldn't be able to escape responsibility simply because an arbitrary time period has elapsed. Microsoft certainly behaved in an anti-competitive manner during the period in question and deliberately removing a feature from Win95 in order to disadvantage the competition is far from beyond the realms of possibility.

I certainly believe that Microsoft has improved as a company, though I still dislike the way they are abusing patents in the mobile market. But if they deliberately disadvantaged a rival to establish a monopoly then they should face the consequences and $500-$1BN is but a fraction of the money they have made from Office from their monopoly position.

It is up to the legal system to rule on this, rather than to follow the opinions of people like ourselves who simply don't have access to the evidence. But if the law was broken then there should be consequences.

Trueblue711 said,

I normally would agree with you, but after reading more about evidence in the Netscape vs. Microsoft trial, I could completely see MS doing a move like this. This was around the same time as that happened too, so that makes it even more likely.

Actually, no it does not. That fact it happened at the same time is not relevant at all. In fact, based on facts surrounding the issue, the feature would have made many of Microsoft's own programs crash as well.

In fact in the betas, Windows 95 crashed all the timed with the unname feature. Which is why it was removed near to release. They simply couldnt get it to work. That dosn't mean they were out to stop Novell. When Novell saw the feature they depended on couldn't be made to work, they could have found a work-around just as Microsoft did with its own software.

Stop trying to pawn off Microsoft as just being evil. What MS did to Netscape, is w hole different ballgame than this and isn't the same.

theyarecomingforyou said,
I couldn't disagree more. A company that is alleged to have broken the law shouldn't be able to escape responsibility simply because an arbitrary time period has elapsed. Microsoft certainly behaved in an anti-competitive manner during the period in question and deliberately removing a feature from Win95 in order to disadvantage the competition is far from beyond the realms of possibility.

I certainly believe that Microsoft has improved as a company, though I still dislike the way they are abusing patents in the mobile market. But if they deliberately disadvantaged a rival to establish a monopoly then they should face the consequences and $500-$1BN is but a fraction of the money they have made from Office from their monopoly position.

It is up to the legal system to rule on this, rather than to follow the opinions of people like ourselves who simply don't have access to the evidence. But if the law was broken then there should be consequences.

So basically you're just taking Novell's word in them just being right. The facts show they aren't right.

Actually, no it does not. That fact it happened at the same time is not relevant at all. In fact, based on facts surrounding the issue, the feature would have made many of Microsoft's own programs crash as well.

In fact in the betas, Windows 95 crashed all the timed with the unname feature. Which is why it was removed near to release. They simply couldnt get it to work. That dosn't mean they were out to stop Novell. When Novell saw the feature they depended on couldn't be made to work, they could have found a work-around just as Microsoft did with its own software.

Stop trying to pawn off Microsoft as just being evil. What MS did to Netscape, is w hole different ballgame than this and isn't the same.