Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates appeared in a federal courthouse in Salt Lake City recently to testify in a $1 billion antitrust lawsuit filed by the WordPerfect creator. The WordPerfect creator said that several last minute changes to technical features on Microsoft Windows 95 would no longer support his software.
“We worked super hard,” stated Gates. “It was the most challenging, trying project we had ever done.” Gates was the first witness to testify yesterday. Novell sued Microsoft in 2004 saying that the company violated U.S. antitrust laws through arrangements with other software companies when Windows 95 was launched. Novell said that they later had to sell WordPerfect at a $1.2 billion loss. Novell is currently a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Attachmate Group.
Gates said that Novell was unable to create a Windows 95 compatible WordPerfect program in time for launch. Gates said that their own word processing software was better and was ranked number one in the market above WordPerfect. Gates said that it was “an important win.”
Gates added that Microsoft needed to dump a technical feature that would support WordPerfect because the company feared it would crash their operating system. “We were making trade-offs,” stated Gates. However Novell believes that Microsoft engineers were ordered to reject WordPerfect as a Windows 95 word processing service because they feared it was too good.
WordPerfect had about 50% of the market for computer writing software at one point, but their market share quickly dropped to less than 10% after Microsoft’s office programs were launched.
Novell’s lawyer admitted that Microsoft did not have a legal obligation to provide advanced access to the Windows 95 operating system. However Microsoft enticed Novell to work on a version, but withdrew support months before Windows 95 hit the market said Novell’s attorney Jeff Johnson.
The judge in the case indicated that Novell’s case has no merit. U.S. District Judge Frederick Motz said “I don’t see why I have to give a product to a competitor so he can beat me” to Novell attorneys.
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