"US federal judge Janet Hall of the Connecticut District Court,
who is presiding over the Bristol Technologies case against
Microsoft, said in her Ruling last week (in which Bristol was
awarded $1 million punitive damages against Microsoft) that
"Microsoft could be exposed to civil and criminal penalties
under other unfair and deceptive trade practice statutes for its
deceptive conduct". Criminal penalties sounds ominous - jail at
last for some of the excs?"
"The judge was also critical of a speech by Bill Gates in which
he made "an affirmatively false statement and not merely an
omission of material fact" at the Unix expo in New York (attended
by some 20,000 people) in October 1996. Gates said: "... we work
together with [Bristol and Mainsoft] to make sure they've got the
very latest Windows API technology. Bristol and Mainsoft also
provide source and binary compatibility, and again that's a close
relationship where it's not just some old version of Windows, it's
the very latest." It's the bit about the Microsoft claiming to
offer the latest version of Windows that particularly caught the
court's eye, because in fact Microsoft had refused to give Bristol
access to the latest version of Windows."
"It appears that Gates believed until August 1997 that
Microsoft's WISE program (Windows Interactive Source Environment)
was actually doing what it publicly said it was going to do. When
Gates realised this, he signalled his understanding of the
consequences ("less than eloquently", in Judge Hall's view)...
Muglia purred to Gates, "We prefer that 'they are taking full
advantage of our platform', Bill." Meanwhile, Microsoft vp John
Ludwig wrote in an email that he and others were "rolling on the
floor at the irony" of the situation. In fact, the irony was that
Gates may actually have been innocent of any subterfuge on this
occasion for the humiliating reason that nobody had previously told
him what was happening in his company."
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