Microsoft Trial Update: Warden Seeks To Weaken Netscape Case



WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Netscape Communications Corp. lost an important deal with Intuit Inc. not because of any bullying by rival Microsoft Corp., but because Netscape could not deliver a product as promised, said Microsoft lead attorney John Warden.

Monday afternoon, Warden continued questioning Netcape president and chief executive Jim Barksdale, trying to chip away at Netscape's allegation that Microsoft coerced Intuit, as well as America Online Services Inc., to drop Netscape's browser in favor of Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

Using internal Netscape documents that outlined the loss of the Intuit deal, Warden stressed key points written by former Netscape vice president Dan Shader. In the document, entitled "The Intuit Situation," Shader wrote that Intuit needed an embeddable browser and that Netscape could not provide it.

He wrote that Intuit needed a standard "chromeless" browser to embed, meaning a basic browser, stripped of the bells and whistles that many users do not need.

Shader then wrote that Netscape "offered but did not deliver on these things," and listed several key technologies including OLE server and a chromeless child window.

In another E-mail, Netscape Executive Vice President Mike Homer said Microsoft, unlike Netscape, offered a highly componentized browser.

In yet another message dated Aug. 11, 1996, Netscape product manager Debbie Meredith said Intuit's need for a componentized browser could be met with a product code-named Dogbert, which was to be part of Netscape's Communicator client software. Meredith wrote that this requirement for a componentized browser "is coming up frequently these days," citing Intuit, Merrill Lynch, and Walt Disney Co. as customers requesting such functionality.

She suggested Netscape address this need with a point release "assuming we can't get there with Dogbert."

Warden sketched in a timeline based on the Netscape documents showing that Intuit presented its requirements to Netscape on Aug. 8, 1996; that internal development escalated on Sept. 30. Then on Oct. 10, Intuit and Netscape agreed the super kiosk mode they had decided on would not work.

In the spring of 1997, Intuit elected to go with the Microsoft browser.

Warden did get James Barksdale to admit that Netscape still does not offer a componentized browser, although there is one in beta.

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