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THE VIDEOTAPED deposition of Bill Gates was finally played in the anti-trust case against Microsoft last week. David Boies, a US Department of Justice (DOJ) lawyer, played sections of Gates's pre-trial testimony about Microsoft's alleged illegal attempts to take business away from Netscape, such as its threatened withdrawal of support for MS Office applications on the Mac, to force Apple Computer to reject Netscape's browser in favour of Internet Explorer. Although Gates denied these allegations, seemingly contradictory

e-mails and company memos were produced.

The main witness last week was Avadis Tevanian, Apple's senior vice-president, who was questioned by Microsoft's attorney Theodore Edelman about his claims that Microsoft had sabotaged Apple's QuickTime video technology for Windows. Tevanian admitted he had no proof, but maintained that he believed Microsoft had done it to try to divide the market for emerging video and audio streaming technology.

However, Tevanian's claim that Compaq didn't license QuickTime because of Microsoft pressure was denied in video evidence by Compaq's CEO, Steven Decker, who said his company stopped shipping the product after Apple started to charge for it.

Edelman argued that Apple had shown interest in collaborating with Microsoft on multimedia products and had even proposed that Microsoft replace its technologies with QuickTime. Edelman also introduced an internal Apple memo on how to deal with Microsoft. In the section "Why Microsoft needs us", one bullet point said "DOJ". "Doesn't that suggest that executives at Apple might leverage interest by the DOJ to obtain business concessions by Microsoft?" asked Edelman. Tevanian said that it depended.

A hands-on demo by Edelman to demonstrate the ease of switching from Internet Explorer to Netscape was described as "flawed" by Tevanian, and confusing by Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson. Edelman's cross-examination techniques also failed to impress. "You keep mischaracterising what [Tevanian] has told you," the judge said at one point. "It's misleading language, and it's not acceptable to me."

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MICROSOFT'S INTERNET Explorer 5 for Windows and Unix was released in beta to the general public last week. The main thrust of the new version is towards simplification and streamlining, rather than introducing a raft of new features. Searching by typing keywords into the address bar is a feature, but, whereas Netscape has tied this feature closely to its Netcenter portal, Microsoft is inviting other portals to integrate their sites with IE5, allowing wider user choice for searching and navigation.

A software search assistant directs users to the search engines most suitable for finding the type of information they require. Auto-correct features similar to those used in Microsoft Office applications are also incorporated into the browser, enabling misspelled addresses to be corrected as well as determining whether the browser is online or off - the software adapts to the type of connection used. A final version for all platforms except the Mac is due in the first quarter of next year.

SYQUEST TECHNOLOGY, a pioneer and one-time leader in the removable memory storage devices market, suspended trading last week and said it may file for bankruptcy. The California-based company laid off half its workforce in August and announced losses of $42.5m in its financial quarter ending in June, bringing total losses to $335.2m since 1995.

Last week its lenders cut its available credit from $30m to pounds 10.8m. Analysts said the company had gambled on its 1Gb Sparq drive, which was sold below cost in the hope of building a strong market for replacement cartridges. However, sales never reached the same level as cheaper, lower-capacity drives and removable disks such as the Zip, made by SyQuest's rival Iomega, which saw sales increase 30 per cent this year.

SyQuest said it will maintain a limited support staff for customer service while operations are suspended.

YAHOO! AND BT announced a joint venture last week to provide Internet access and search tools without a subscription fee. Although it has its own portal, the largely unsuccessful LineOne, BT has signed up with the market-leading portal Yahoo, which is looking for similar deals with other European Internet service providers.

The new service, which will be available on Yahoo's UK and Ireland site from the end of the month, is modelled on BT's Click! pay-as-you-go service. Instead of a monthly fee and local call rates, there is no fee, but a premium is charged on top of a local call rate for Internet access. After dialling into the Net, users are taken straight to Yahoo's UK and Ireland site, which already attracts around 44 million page impressions a month.

THE EUROPEAN Commission last week said that its earlier concerns about global representation had been met and that it now welcomed a US plan to reform the Internet name and address system by setting up a non-profit corporation, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names, run by an international board.

"We have been informed of widespread support for this proposal both from the [European Union] member states and from the private sector in Europe," said Martin Bangemann, European telecommunications commissioner, in a letter to the US Commerce Secretary, William Daley.

However, Bangemann said the EU executive was reviewing, to see whether it was consistent with EU competition rules, a related deal aimed at phasing out the exclusive right of the US company Network Solutions Inc to register names in the most popular domains of the Internet.

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