MS/DOJ - Novell exec testimony supports states' remedies –

States' witness and Novell Inc. executive Carl Ledbetter continued his testimony in the Microsoft Corp. antitrust remedy hearing Thursday morning, voicing his support for the states' proposed remedies to Microsoft's anticompetitive behavior and arguing that Novell's products fall within their scope.

States' attorney Steven Kuny questioned Ledbetter, Novell's chief technology officer, on how his company's products would be affected if the states' suggested remedies were imposed. During the hearing, which began last week, District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly is listening to arguments from both Microsoft and nine states plus the District of Columbia that did not agree to a settlement with the software company regarding proposed remedies in the lawsuit. Nine other states, plus the U.S. Department of Justice, have agreed to a settlement, which Kollar-Kotelly is expected to rule on separately from the current hearing on remedies suggested by the nonsettling states.

A federal appeals court last year upheld the District Court decision that Microsoft has an operating system monopoly and engaged in anticompetitive behavior. But the appellate court overthrew the lower court's order to break up Microsoft, and ordered that a new District Court judge determine different remedies.

Novell's products would benefit from the nonsettling states' proposed remedies, Ledbetter said, because they would force Microsoft to maintain interoperability between Windows and third-party software that relies on the operating system's application programming interfaces (APIs). Novell makes server software, such as directory services and a server operating system, that interact with Microsoft's desktop operating system.

Novell has achieved limited interoperability between Windows and its products, such as its NetWare 6 server operating system, but believes that the states' remedies would help insure that the progress Novell has made isn't thwarted by Microsoft should the company decide to change Windows' APIs without notice. One of the states' remedies obliges Microsoft to disclose Windows' APIs, file formats, and communication protocols.

"We at Novell live in a Microsoft world, we've scrambled to achieve interoperability," Ledbetter said. "If (Windows') APIs are not made available, Microsoft could lock us out of interoperability." This is important to Novell, since 96 percent of the desktop PCs that its software works with run Windows, he said.

Ledbetter was also asked to define middleware, a term that has become key to the remedy hearings because the Court of Appeals last year upheld the District Court's finding that some of Microsoft's anticompetitive behavior took place in the middleware market.

During the cross-examination of Ledbetter on Wednesday, a Microsoft attorney argued through his questions that Ledbetter and the states have created a definition of middleware that goes beyond the scope of the rulings made in the antitrust case to include network or server operating systems, therefore covering Novell's products.

In his written direct testimony, Ledbetter said that server operating systems such as NetWare "function as middleware. (They) expose APIs for use by applications and, on behalf of those applications, call on PC operating systems to provide basic functions of the PCs connected to the network."

Ledbetter reiterated that definition on Thursday, adding that one could add products like directory services to the list of middleware examples created by the District Court, which include Netscape Communications Corp.'s Navigator browser and Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Java programming tools.

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