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Microsoft chairman Bill Gates testified in federal court in Washington last week that Netscape's Web browser and Sun Microsystems' Java programming language threatened Windows' market share. But the court shouldn't force Microsoft to fragment its operating system to remedy illegal acts aimed at harming those competitors' products, he said.
If Microsoft were ordered to deliver versions of Windows without its Internet Explorer Web browser and other bundled software, inconsistent versions of the PC operating system could result, risking incompatibilities among hardware and software products used by millions, Gates said. Nine U.S. states want the court to impose tougher penalties on Microsoft for violating antitrust law than those outlined in a tentative settlement between Microsoft, the Justice Department, and nine other states. The dissenting states' proposal includes requiring Microsoft to ship versions of Windows that PC makers could modify with other companies' software.
Gates was asked about testimony in which he said, "Navigator and Java supposedly had the potential to become general-purpose software development platforms." Gates replied, "I don't know if it's helpful, but if you want to strike 'supposedly' I'm willing to do that." Microsoft had argued that the products didn't pose a serious threat to Windows.