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The Independent Culture
BOTH SIDES in the Microsoft anti-trust trial summed up in Washington last week.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) summarised its charges, using video tape of Bill Gates and Microsoft e-mails, that: Microsoft is a monopoly, that it behaved anti-competitively to crush its rival Netscape, that it tried to collude with Netscape to divide the Web browser market and that it used unfair contracts with PC manufacturers to promote its own browser and stifle competition. "At its heart, this case is about innovation... to thwart innovation that threatened [Microsoft's] monopoly," Stephen Houck, a government lawyer, said.

John Warden, a Microsoft attorney, concentrated on presenting alternative interpretations of key points in the DOJ case, saying that Microsoft was an innovative and competitive company on trial for a case that events in the rapidly changing high-tech industry, such as the acquisition of AOL by Netscape, had rendered obsolete.

Warden argued that, under existing law, Microsoft is not a monopoly, as the threat posed by the Sun Microsystems-AOL-Netscape alliance showed. Sun and Netscape, he said, pressed for the anti-trust trial, while negotiating an alliance to compete for "control of the desktop" because they were falling behind in the free market. "The government invited Microsoft competitors into court to air their grievances," he said.

District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson is expected to issue his findings of fact within the next month, but there will be more written briefs and arguments before he reaches his conclusion of law.

DIAMOND MULTIMEDIA last week began shipping the Rio 500, the latest version of its portable MP3 digital music player, while Sony celebrated the 20th anniversary of its Walkman by introducing a new model that is also capable of playing music downloaded over the Internet.

The $269 Rio has 64Mb of memory, upgradeable to 96Mb, which offers up to two hours of storage. It also comes with a USB port connection for faster file transfers between it and a PC. "Consumers have told us they want to manage and store more music on their MP3 player," Mike Reed, director of product marketing for Diamond, said. "We've delivered that and more in our second-generation player."

The new Walkman uses Memory Stick technology, a medium currently in competition with memory flash cards used in digital cameras, which can store up to 32Mb per unit. Sony plans to introduce memory sticks in more than 30 consumer electronic devices. Sony said the Walkman should ship in time for Christmas, but did not reveal likely prices.

BILL HARRIS, chief executive of Intuit and the main force behind its Internet strategy, resigned last week saying that he is looking for a more hands-on entrepreneurial role now that Intuit, the world's largest personal finance software manufacturer, has established its online financial services.

"It's time for Intuit to move to the next level and it's time for someone else to lead the company," he said. "I have enjoyed being a catalyst for change at Intuit. But the board and I agree that this is the right time for me to step back from day-to-day management of this billion-dollar company so I can focus on my entrepreneurial interests." Chairman Bill Campbell will take over until a successor is brought in.

WINDOWS 2000 Datacenter Server, the fourth version of the replacement operating system for Windows NT starts its testing phase this week in 300 large corporations. This is the high-end version aimed at competing with large servers and mainframe systems. The other three versions - Windows 2000 Professional, Server and Advanced Server - aimed at less demanding sectors. They entered testing earlier this year and are supposed to ship before the end of the year, according to Microsoft. Bill Gates said last month that he was "pretty sure the [Windows 2000] builds will go final by the end of the year", but industry analysts are sceptical given the regular slippage in the production schedule since the product was announced. Datacenter Server is not expected to ship until four months after the other versions.

DREAMCAST CONSOLE sales in the United States were more than 500,000 in the two weeks since its launch. Sega of America said 514,000 of the games console with a built-in modem had been sold since going on sale on 9 September.

"That is an all-time high for the first couple of weeks," Ed Roth, president of the leisure activities services at the NPD Group market research company, said.

The launch of the 128-bit console in Japan last year was not helped by a lack of software, and sales targets were missed. In the States this was not a problem - four of the top five video games sold during the week of the launch were Dreamcast titles.