Gates Testifies in $1B Lawsuit Against Microsoft

Gates testifies in $1B lawsuit against Microsoft SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows 95 rollout presented the most challenges in the company's history, leading to several last-minute changes to technical features that would no longer support a rival software maker's word processor, Bill Gates testified Monday in a $1 billion antitrust lawsuit filed by the creator of WordPerfect.

"We worked super hard," the Microsoft co-founder said. "It was the most challenging, trying project we had ever done."

Gates was the first witness to testify Monday as Microsoft lawyers presented their case in the trial that's been ongoing in federal court in Salt Lake City for about a month. He is to return to the stand Tuesday.

Utah-based Novell Inc. sued Microsoft in 2004, claiming the Redmond, Wash., company violated U.S. antitrust laws through its arrangements with other software makers when it launched Windows 95. Novell says it was later forced to sell WordPerfect for a $1.2 billion loss. Novell is now a wholly owned subsidiary of The Attachmate Group, the result of a merger that was completed earlier this year.

Gates said Novell just couldn't deliver a Windows 95 compatible WordPerfect program in time for its rollout, and its own Word program was actually better. He said that by 1994, Microsoft's Word writing program was ranked No. 1 in the market above WordPerfect.

Gates called it an "important win."

He testified later that Microsoft had to dump a technical feature that would have supported WordPerfect because he feared it would crash the operating system.

"We were making trade-offs," he said.

Novell argues that Gates ordered Microsoft engineers to reject WordPerfect as a Windows 95 word processing application because he feared it was too good.

WordPerfect once had nearly 50 percent of the market for computer writing programs, but its share quickly plummeted to less than 10 percent as Microsoft's own office programs took hold.

Microsoft lawyers say Novell's loss of market share was its own doing because the company didn't develop a Windows compatible WordPerfect program until months after the operating system's rollout.

Novell attorney Jeff Johnson has conceded that Microsoft was under no legal obligation to provide advance access to Windows 95 so Novell could prepare a compatible version. Microsoft, however, enticed Novell to work on a version, only to withdraw support months before Windows 95 hit the market, he said.

Microsoft lawyer David Tulchin said Gates decided against installing WordPerfect because it couldn't be made compatible in time for the rollout. He argued that Novell's missed opportunity was its own fault, and that Microsoft had no obligation to give a competitor a leg up.

"Novell never complained to Microsoft," Tulchin said during arguments Friday. "There's nothing in the evidence, no documents."

Johnson maintains Novell was tricked in violation of federal antitrust laws so Microsoft could monopolize the market.

"We got stabbed in the back," he said.

Microsoft's arguments for a dismissal of the case were set to resume Monday afternoon.

Throughout arguments Friday, U.S. District Judge Frederick Motz openly expressed doubts that Novell's claims had merit.

"I don't see why I have to give a product to a competitor so he can beat me," Motz told Novell attorneys.

Gates, a billionaire, began by testifying about Microsoft's history. He was just 19 when he helped found the company. Today, Microsoft is one of the world's largest software makers, with a market value of more than $210 billion.

"We thought everybody would have a personal computer on every desk and in every home," Gates said. "We wanted to be there and be the first."

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Dave Ron

Gates -- no longer in charge -- was bent on world domination. at least when it came to personal computers.
SMACK them hard! since once again they copied a GREAT program -- WP. like they copied the Mac, etc., etc.

November 26 2011 at 4:03 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

I always thought it was odd that MS was able to 'create' Word with the same function keys doing the same thing and with Word having the exact same capabilities as WordPerfect.

November 25 2011 at 10:00 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Word sucks. Word Perfect rules. Word is clunk and old. WP is slim and active. Only Pages competes with WP. I'd turn my whole office into an Apple temple if Word Perfect worked on Macs. Until, then I am bound with Mr. Gates leaky program, but I have to use it to use Word Perfect. It's worth the price.

November 22 2011 at 7:01 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Originally, I was a WordPerfect user, and thought it was fine. But then, Microsoft came out with Works, whixh I absolutely love and use to this day. Word followed and was a piece of crap...then they made it worse! I have Word, but only because I have to transfer my Works docs to Word, to share with the rest of the world because Microsoft doesn't allow for Works to be read by Word users...damn it.

November 22 2011 at 5:38 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

WordPerfect is a much better program than Microsoft Word. It's more flexible and easy to work with. Word's outline format is a nightmare.

November 22 2011 at 5:38 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

I liked Wordperfect over MS Word 100 %, but I was a gov't employee when the change was made in software and hardware and no choice on which I could use. I missed all the easy and fun shortcuts WordPerfect had. I couldn't get my boss's to let me continue to use WordPerfect because of contracts w/ what ever vendors the Gov't was dealing with. I couldn't even get it for my home computer. If I used my WordPerfect that was on my home computer it didn't let me pull up my work I did at home at work, which really sucked, because I could really crank out a lot of writing on a wkend. I wrote Technical Documents and Users Manuals for the Gov't for over 10 years. I really had MS Word, there are no user friendly shortcuts. As far as I am concerned MS Word could go away and WordPerfect could come back as the norm and I'd be extremely happy.

November 22 2011 at 5:33 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Hello Associated Press,
I'm Sonja.
Did I have Students in Competition in the Classroom.
No way around Competition.
Me, I could only find out what the Competition was about and be Facilitator and Mediator. That was difficult. Tempers flared.


November 22 2011 at 4:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i was raised on WordPerfect and still use it (X4). It is simply more agile, has better features and produces more attractive documents. Try as I might to get used to Word, I have come to the final realization that Word is a big clunky program which seeks to subjugate its user to its awkward protocols. For example, WordPerfect lets you know what is happening behind the scenes with 'Reveal Codes' so you can better control what is on the screen. Word's automated protocols kick in requiring you to constantly make corrections and reformat paragraphs unnecessarily that were messed up by Word and weren't what you wanted to do. In other words, WordPerfect is very Democratic and Word is a Fascist piece of junk.

November 22 2011 at 4:39 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

I remeber being forced to use WordPerfect and it was a real pain in the A$$. Word wasn't that hard to learn.

November 22 2011 at 4:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

WordPerfect has always been behind the rest of the competition on the way they developed things, when everybody else was putting menu bar's at the top of their programs screens WordPerfect was still asking users to use templates that you placed on your keyboard, no need for them to cry it's their own fault.....

November 22 2011 at 4:14 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply