Ex-Netscape CEO Barksdale attacks Microsoft pact

20 March 2002 The US government’s planned settlement of the Microsoft anti-trust case would not have stopped the software giant in its illegal campaign to destroy Netscape during the so-called ‘browser wars’, claims former Netscape CEO James Barksdale.

Barksdale said that the proposed settlement was full of loopholes and would not improve the competitiveness of a software industry dominated by Microsoft.

His comments came in a written testimony to US district judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, released on the second day of a possible two-month long hearing in Washington between Microsoft and nine rebel US states that are refusing to accept the deal.

“As I review Microsoft’s proposed remedy, I reach the unfortunate conclusion that it would not have helped Netscape in the mid-1990s by preventing Microsoft’s anti-competitive behaviour,” he said.

However, the proposed remedy of the nine rebel states would give consumers “real choice” and provide an incentive for application developers to support alternatives to Microsoft. “Had this remedy been in place during the mid-1990s, Netscape would have been able to compete on its merits,” claims Barksdale.

He said that his company’s fortunes declined when Microsoft put the code for its Internet Explorer web browser in the same files that ran the Windows operating system – so-called software ‘bundling’ – to prevent Netscape’s Navigator browser from becoming a platform of choice for software developers.

But Microsoft lawyers stressed that RealNetworks, the media streaming software company, had been able to sign-up 250 million registered users despite competing with Microsoft’s Windows Media Player product, which is bundled with Windows operating systems.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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