WASHINGTON, April 22 (UPI) -- Bill Gates, Microsoft co-founder and head, appeared Monday in U.S. District Court to defend his company against demands for further antitrust remedies being pushed by the remaining nine states in the landmark antitrust case against the company.
While the U.S. Justice Department and nine other states have proposed a settlement with Microsoft, the nine remaining plaintiff states have charged that this settlement is not sufficient enough to safeguard against future monopolistic behavior by the Seattle-based software giant.
Gates submitted written testimony saying that the penalties sough by the nine holdout states would result not only in harm to Microsoft but also in harm to the PC industry and to the average consumer.
The appearance by the Microsoft head comes at the end of a four-year antirust battle with the United States, with the case having reached its remedy phase after a lengthy appeal process during which a panel of judges upheld an earlier trial decision of anticompetitive actions on the part of the company.
Though Gates appeared on video in 1998 -- a performance that received many negative reviews for the company head's combative demeanor -- during the main trail, his testimony Monday before U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly was the Microsoft founder's first actual appearance on the stand.
Microsoft has argued in court that the proposed requirement by the nine states that Microsoft market a striped down version of its Windows operating system that would more easily allow so-called middleware (such as Net browsers) and other programs to more easily run, would lead to "customized" version of Window which would fragment the well-know operating system.
"Customers would soon be faced with the prospect of finding and distinguishing among, for example, Corel WordPerfect for Compaq Windows, Corel WordPerfect for Dell Windows and Corel WordPerfect for Gateway Windows (and for Sun Windows and AOL Windows), each with varying capabilities reflecting the underlying capabilities of the version of Windows to which they were written," said Gates in his written testimony.
"Software innovation would slow as ISVs (initial software vendors) devoted greater resources to duplicating functionality that Windows might otherwise provide and testing many variations of their products to reflect variations in the underlying operating systems," he added.
"In short, if the Windows platform were to fragment, the primary value it provides -- the ability to provide compatibility across a wide range of software and hardware -- would be lost," Gates said.
Also, removing the code for various middleware products from the Windows operating system would result a degradation of the systems functionality, according to Gates. He added that the company would be unable to do this within the six months required under the proposal by the nine states.
Ultimately, Gates said, such re-engineering of Windows would force the company to remove it from the market.