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Bill Gates wraps up testimony in $1B WordPerfect suit

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - Bill Gates continued his testimony in a one billion dollar lawsuit by software developer Novell.
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - Microsoft founder Bill Gates wrapped up testimony Tuesday afternoon in a $1 billion lawsuit against his company at the federal court in downtown Salt Lake City.

Outside the court, Gates told reporters, "I’m glad I had the chance to clarify everything.”

Utah based company, Novell, alleges Microsoft duped them into believing that its word processing software WordPerfect would be included in the launch of the Windows 95.

Gates stood firm in his claims that he had no information or evidence that eliminating a piece of computer code would eliminate the possibility of WordPerfect from working on the Windows 96 operating system.

Gates said he made the decision to not include the code in the software because he feared it would crash the Windows 95 operating system.

Novell attorney, Jim Johnson, claimed Gates did know it would affect WordPerfect and used the “once in a lifetime opportunity” to gain a competitive edge.

Johnson used internal Microsoft memorandums and emails sent between Gates and Microsoft employees to illustrate the intent of deceiving Novell.

“I think it went very well today,” Johnson said Tuesday after court. “I think the jury understands what was really going on with Mr. Gates and with namespace extensions.”

Gates and Johnson engaged in back-and-forth banter during the cross-examination questioning.

Johnson continually asked Gates questions, to which Gates did not give definitive yes or no answers. Instead, Gates explained that Johnson and Novell were taking situations out of context when referring to internal Microsoft emails and memos.

Microsoft attorney, Jim Jardine, said Gates’ testimony showed Microsoft and Novell were always on an even playing field.

“What Microsoft made available to its own products, it made available to Novell products,” he said. “If this was such a big deal to Novell, why did they not complain to Microsoft during that time period?”

Novell claims Microsoft misled them by requesting upgrades to WordPerfect to make it more compatible to Windows 95, while planning to use their own word processor in the meantime.

The launch of Windows 95 was delayed, and when it did come out, it included Microsoft Word instead of WordPerfect.

Windows 95 and Microsoft Word went on to become the most popular operating system and word processing software in the world, while Novell's WordPerfect faded into relative obscurity. Novell later sold WordPerfect at a $1.2 billion loss.

Novell also claimed that Microsoft's move from WordPerfect to its own Word product violated federal antitrust laws because the end result was a cornering of the market for word processing software.

The jury has yet to hear from other witnesses in this case. Closing arguments in the case are expected to be held December 19, 2011.
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