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  Judge Delays Microsoft Trial

By Ted Bridis
Associated Press Writer
Friday, October 9, 1998; 11:41 a.m. EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A federal judge agreed to delay the start of the government's antitrust trial wth Microsoft Corp. four days until Oct. 19.

Adding to the roster of witnesses form high-tech rivals, the government says it will call key executives from Apple Computer Co. and Sun Microsystems Inc. to testify against Microsoft at its antitrust trial.

The government wants to use testimony from Apple and Sun to show that Microsoft engaged in a pattern of illegal activities, not just specifically to distribute more of its Internet browser software, but also generally to protect its lucrative Windows operating system.

The decision to highlight Microsoft's behavior toward Apple and Sun illustrates the breadth of the case. Executives from Netscape Communications Corp., Intel Corp., America Online, IBM Corp. and Intuit Inc. previously agreed to testify against Microsoft.

Both the government and the company updated their witnesses lists Thursday, and Microsoft changeed its mind again today.

Microsoft said Thursday it will call its top sales executive and one of its software developers who attended a controversial June 1995 meeting with rival Netscape.

But today, responding to the government's new witnesses from Apple and Sun, Microsoft said it will call Robert Muglia, a senior executive with Microsoft who works with Sun, and Chris Engstrom, an executive who handled some of Microsoft 's relations with Apple.

The original antitrust lawsuit, filed in May, focused on Microsoft's fight to control the Internet browser market. But it also generally accused Microsoft of ``a series of anticompetitive activities'' to protect its dominant Windows operating system.

Microsoft accused the government again Thursday of trying to broaden the case inappropriately. The company has said if the judge allows what it describes as new allegations, then he should delay the case at least six months.

``These new witnesses are further proof that the government has lost faith in its original case and is rewriting its case at the last minute,'' spokesman Mark Murray said. ``The government's case has had more makeovers than Madonna.''

U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson said previously that he would decide no earlier than today whether to limit the scope of the case.

The judge didn't decide today whether to limit in advance the types of evidence the government can cite. But, he invited Microsoft to formally make its arguments in a future written motion.

The government will call Sun's James Gosling, lead engineer for the Java programming language, which was designed to run on a variety of operating systems, not just Windows. Gosling likely will explain how Microsoft feared that widespread use of Java could replace Windows.

Sun is suing Microsoft in an unrelated federal lawsuit in California, claiming that Microsoft is distributing a Windows-only version of Java in violation of their contract. A Sun lawyer, citing internal e-mail by Microsoft, said last week that Chairman Bill Gates was ``scared to death'' of Java.

Court documents suggest the government will use testimony from Avie Tevanian, a vice president of programming at Apple, to show that Microsoft tried illegally to dissuade Apple from developing future Windows versions of its popular QuickTime software.

QuickTime, which lets customers hear audio and watch video across the Internet, competes directly with Microsoft's own Netshow software.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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