- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 24, 2002

Bill Gates repeated assertions yesterday that Microsoft Corp. could not comply with proposals outlined by the District and nine states that want to punish the company for antitrust violations.
Mr. Gates said during his second day of testimony that a measure forcing Microsoft to market a stripped-down version of its Windows operating system is not feasible.
"I feel quite sure there is not a way to comply," Mr. Gates said during more than six hours on the witness stand.
Mr. Gates stopped short of saying Microsoft would pull Windows off the shelf, though Steven Kuney, the attorney for the states who is questioning Microsoft's co-founder and chairman, asked him repeatedly whether Microsoft would stop marketing the operating system that is in an estimated 90 percent of the world's personal computers.
Instead, Mr. Gates said it would take the company years to develop a version of Windows with software that could be removed at the discretion of computer-makers who may want to replace it with software made by Microsoft competitors. Mr. Gates also said he would urge his lawyers find a court "that would relieve us" of making a stripped-down version of Windows.
The exchange was an illustration of Mr. Kuney's apparent strategy to portray Mr. Gates as having an extreme interpretation of the effect the proposed penalties will have on the Redmond, Wash., software developer.
Mr. Gates said it would be difficult to market a version of Windows with removable software because the applications on it are interdependent.
That proposal "creates a dilemma that I don't know how to solve," he said. Windows "is highly interdependent."
Mr. Gates attacked the testimony of Andrew Appel, a Princeton University computer-science professor presented by the states, who testified that Microsoft could remove applications from Windows.
"Pulling things out breaks things because of the dependencies," Mr. Gates said.
A stripped-down version of Windows would have little value to Microsoft, Mr. Gates said, and he questioned whether the stripped-down version would have a market.
After the trial ended for the day, Microsoft critics chastised Mr. Gates for presuming to know what consumers want.
"Frankly, let's find out if there's demand for other variations," said Mike Pettit, president of ProComp, a District-based group of technology companies that oppose Microsoft.
Mr. Gates also took issue with the states' proposal that Microsoft make available old versions of Windows for five years after releasing new versions of the operating system.
But Mr. Kuney asserted that Microsoft dislikes the measure because newer operating systems presumably cost more and the company stands to make more money selling new versions.
Mr. Gates also testified that the states' proposals could delay Microsoft from fixing security holes in Windows.
He said a provision requiring Microsoft to give advance notice of any changes in Windows that might degrade competitors' software would prevent the company from releasing security patches upon uncovering the glitch.
In his second day of testimony, Mr. Gates was less conservative in his statements than on Monday, and he made a handful of flippant comments.
He said the document outlining the states' proposed sanctions against Microsoft contains inaccuracies, and he made sarcastic comments in reply to some of Mr. Kuney's remarks.
But the grinding, technical discussion between the two men has remained mostly cordial.
Melinda Gates watched her husband testify for the second day in a row yesterday.
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller also attended the hearing, which began March 11.
Mr. Gates will be on the witness stand today, when Mr. Kuney is expected to wrap up his cross-examination of the world's richest man.
An appeals court ruled last year that Microsoft illegally protected its Windows monopoly. The Justice Department and nine other states have settled their case against the company, and a separate proposal to punish the company is before U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar Kotelly awaiting approval.
Connecticut, California, Iowa, Kansas, Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Utah, West Virginia and the District of Columbia are pushing for tougher sanctions against Microsoft to prevent it from abusing its Windows monopoly.

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