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Microsoft Lawyer Grills Intel

By Rajiv Chandrasekaran
The Washington Post
WASHINGTON

The Microsoft antitrust trial turned into a tense sparring match over the credibility of a witness from Intel Corp. Thursday, with a lawyer for Microsoft accusing the executive of concocting some of his most colorful testimony and the government producing several documents to support his claims.

On the witness stand was Steven McGeady, an Intel vice president called by the government. He testified earlier this week that Microsoft had threatened to withhold crucial technical support from Intel if the chipmaker did not stop developing software that would compete with Microsoft's products. He also made the dramatic allegation that a senior executive at Microsoft told him of an intent to "extinguish" rival Netscape Communications Corp. and to "cut off Netscape's air supply."

Microsoft attorney Steven Holley unveiled several handwritten notes, electronic mail messages and pretrial statements by other Intel executives that were intended to cast doubt on McGeady's claims and depict him as disaffected and having an ax to grind against Microsoft.

Holley tried to paint McGeady as out of step with Intel's corporate policies toward Microsoft at the time. Among his evidence: an e-mail message that McGeady sent to Intel's then chief executive Andrew S. Grove, saying that "Microsoft could be goaded into doing something really stupid and anti-competitive, finally enraging the apparently placi(d) antitrust police."

A defensive McGeady did not concede Holley's points, instead offering tart rebuttals and protestations that the lawyer was misinterpreting the documents.

In one exchange that was typical of Holley's cross-examination, the lawyer showed McGeady a copy of his handwritten notes from a meeting in which he contends a Microsoft executive said that the company intended to "extinguish" rival Netscape Communications Corp. "This is not what your notes say," Holley told McGeady. "You don't see the word extinguish anywhere in your notes, do you?"

"There is no danger I would have forgotten," retorted McGeady, who said he didn't need to write down the remark because it was sure to stick in his mind.