Utah company wraps up $1B case against Microsoft

Dec 13, 2011 By PAUL FOY , Associated Press
In this Nov. 21, 2011 photo, Bill Gates arrives to testify at the Frank E. Moss federal courthouse in Salt Lake City. Closing arguments are set Tuesday Dec. 13,2011 in a $1 billion federal antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft Corp. Novell Inc. claims the software giant duped it into working on a new version of the WordPerfect writing program only to withdraw support months before Microsoft's Windows 95 was released. Novell claims it was later forced to sell WordPerfect for a $1 billion loss. (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart,File)

Microsoft Corp. purposely duped a Utah company into believing its writing application would be included in the Windows 95 rollout, then pulled the plug so Microsoft could gain market share with its own product, an attorney said Monday in closing arguments of a $1 billion antitrust lawsuit against the software giant.

"It was purely a predatory action," . attorney Jeff Johnson told jurors.

Utah-based Novell sued Microsoft in 2004, claiming the Redmond, Wash., company violated U.S. antitrust laws through its arrangements with other software makers when it launched Windows 95. Novell said it was later forced to sell WordPerfect for a $1.2 billion loss. Novell is now a wholly owned subsidiary of The Attachmate Group, the result of a merger that was completed earlier this year.

The trial began in October in federal court in .

Microsoft lawyers have argued that Novell's loss of market share was its own doing because the company didn't develop a Windows compatible WordPerfect program until months after the operating system's rollout.

Johnson has conceded that Microsoft was under no to provide advance access to Windows 95 so Novell could prepare a compatible version. Microsoft, however, enticed Novell to work on a version, only to withdraw support months before Windows 95 hit the market, he said.

Microsoft co-founder testified last month that the company made last-minute changes to Windows 95 that would have supported WordPerfect because he feared it would crash the operating system.

Gates also said Novell just couldn't deliver a compatible WordPerfect program in time for the rollout, and Microsoft's own Word program was actually better. He said that by 1994, the Word writing program was ranked No. 1 in the market above WordPerfect.

WordPerfect once had nearly 50 percent of the market for word processing, but its share quickly plummeted to less than 10 percent as Microsoft's own Office programs took hold.

Novell has argued that Gates ordered Microsoft engineers to reject WordPerfect as a Windows 95 word processing application because he feared it was too good.

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Nanobanano
1 / 5 (4) Dec 13, 2011
Wow...

who would wait 10 years to file a lawsuit?

Isn't there some sort of statute of limitations anyway?

FunkyDude
1.5 / 5 (2) Dec 13, 2011
I could see reimbursement maybe for a breaking a contract or development costs, but the failure of the company itself probably comes from not offering a better writing program (or properly marketing it).
unknownorgin
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 14, 2011
I remember if windows 95 did not crash at least once a day it was because your computer was not on. The word perfect developers probably could not get around the bad programing in windows 95.
CaptainSlog
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 14, 2011
Microsoft did the same thing and at the same time with Lotus 123 and Excel, and (to a lesser extent) dBase and Access, thus putting the MS Office suite in an invulnerable position. Hence Microsoft = The Evil Empire
Rdavid
not rated yet Dec 14, 2011
I thought the issue had more to do with redlining/track changes feature. WordPerfect had it through a partnership with Compare-Rite; Word was attempting to catch-up with this market leading application for legal redaction software. Windows 95 eventually left both in the dust.