Microsoft Trial Update: Warden, Barksdale Square Off Again



WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Microsoft Corp. did its best to use the words of Netscape Communications Corp. executives to undermine the government's anti-trust case against it.

Questioning Netscape President and Chief Executive James Barksdale, Microsoft attorney John Warden quoted liberally from the deposition of Jim Clark, the Netscape co-founder and chairman. In 1994, Clark E-mailed Microsoft Vice President Brad Silverberg, a year before the now-infamous June 21 Netscape-Microsoft meeting, to propose that Microsoft use the Netscape client, acknowledging that it would be a better choice than Mosaic, the browser technology Microsoft planned to use.

That missive shows, according to Warden, that Netscape was aware early that Microsoft planned to include browser functionality in Windows 95. In the message, Clark also proposed that Microsoft take an equity position in Netscape.

Barksdale said Clark sought the Microsoft investment to shore up Netscape's weak finances, noting that at the time Netscape was "burning through cash."

Warden also tried to dislodge the notion that Microsoft, Redmond, Wash., engaged in predatory behavior by offering its Internet Explorer browser for free. Netscape, Mountain View, Calif., offered its browser for free first, he noted, citing Clark's deposed testimony.

In addition, Warden led Barksdale through Netscape's recent 10Q and 10k filings, to show that the company makes money off Netcenter, its online storefront. Warden cited a speech by Netscape Vice President of Products Marc Andreessen last month stating that Netscape had made a "strategic choice" to make the browser free and focus on Netcenter, which is a higher-growth business.

Barksdale and Warden also got back to the June 21 meeting between Netscape and Microsoft executives, which has been characterized by Netscape as a heavy-handed attempt by Microsoft to divvy up the browser market with Netscape and secure the Windows 95 browser market for itself.

"I left the meeting stunned that Microsoft had made such an explicit proposal [to divide up the market], and I was surprised at the degree of threat to the Windows monopoly apparently perceived by Microsoft," Barksdale said.

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