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Revisiting the spectacular failure that was the Bill Gates deposition

EnlargeAurich Lawson
When Microsoft backed a key motion filed two weeks ago in Epic Games antitrust ..



EnlargeAurich Lawson

When Microsoft backed a key motion filed two weeks ago in Epic Games antitrust lawsuit against Apple, it raised a few eyebrows.

Two decades ago, the US Justice Department, 18 states, and the District of Columbia sued Microsoft on allegations the Windows operating system represented a monopoly that the company was wielding to prop up its then fledgling Internet Explorer browser, in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. The suit expressly claimed that Microsoft was using Windows to freeze out the Netscape browser and, more tacitly, Sun Microsystems cross-platform Java platform as well.

The software maker vehemently bristled at the allegations and claimed that the action represented a government intrusion brought at the behest of companies that couldnt compete on the merits. Microsoft warned that the action would set a dangerous precedent that could stifle innovation for years to come.

The company's legal response was one of the most vigorous Ive covered in my 25 years as a journalist. The PR campaign reached shock-and-awe proportions, as well, with handlers at one point arranging a poorly executed astro turf campaign intended to galvanize public opinion against the legal action.

Now, in 2020, a Microsoft executive has submitted sworn written testimony in support of plaintiff Epic Games alleging that Apple has a “complete monopoly over the distribution of apps to the billion users of iOS … to coerce app developers into using Apples payment platform.”

The legal declaration, from Microsoft Gaming Developer Experiences General Manager Kevin Gammill, came in response to Apple's threat to deny Epic access to software development tools it needed to develop its Unreal Engine game platform for use on iOS. Apple made the threat after Epic tried to use its own payment system in the iOS version of Fortnite to get around Apple's 30-percent platform fee. That move quickly got the game pulled from the Apple App Store and led Epic to file a lawsuit in response.

Gammill said that any move harming development of Epic's Unreal Engine on iOS would hurt Microsoft's business, because "in Microsofts view there are very few other options available for creators to license with as many features and as much functionality as Unreal Engine across multiple platforms, including iOS."

Role reversal

While Microsofts filing expressed no opinion on the underlying antitrust claims, the declaration nonetheless illustrated a dramatic about-face for a company culture that once wore its contempt for antitrust law and theory on its sleeve. No longer the Goliath it once was—in large part because of the ascendance of companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple made possible by a settlement Microsoft signed—Microsoft was now comfortable supporting the Davids of the tech industry.

The August filing also represented a major reversal of another sort. In the mid to late 1990s when the events leading to the antitrust suit were playing out, Apple was on life support. Microsoft knew this, and according to the government suit, the company used the maker of Macs as a pawn in a bid to blunt the threat Navigator and Java posed to the Windows monopoly. Now, Apple represents the Goliath Microsoft was helping to slay.

All of this got me thinking about the one of the most memorable parts of my coverage of Microsoft antitrust trial—the videotaped deposition of Bill Gates, the companys cofounder and at the time its CEO and chairman. At its most basic level, the deposition underscored the utter contempt he had for an action he believed impinged the ability of his company—and others to follow, he warned—to design products and conduct business as they saw fit.

The strategy during the three-day deposition was classic Microsoft. Obstruct. Paint the government as out-of-touch policy wonks who had no idea how tech and real markets worked. And above all, deny even the most basic of premises in the governments case. The plan from Gates army of lawyers and PR handlers seemed to be to wield his image as a software wunderkind who dropped out of Harvard to bootstrap his company and went on to become the worlds richest man. Team Gates planned to use that same domineering force of will to beat back government lawyers.

A spectacular failure

By day 2, it became clear that strategy was failing spectacularly. As New Yorker writer Ken Auletta once noted, Gates had never in his life groveled for a job or suffered many of the indignities most of us experience on a regular basis. He regularly berated reporters for asking what hed say were stupid questions. Publicly lauded as the wise sage, consummate businessman, and industry visionary, Gates was accustomed to being treated with obsequious deference from all but a small number of peers. As such, he had little or no experience tolerating—let alone encountering—dissent, criticism, or challenges to his authority.

The lack of experience played right into the governments hand. Instead of portraying a leader in control of his domain and confident in his case and his companys legal and ethical righteousness, the courtroom videos showed a side of Gates that had never been on public display before. He was petulant, petty, flustered, and dour. He was ineffectual. He was, in a word, beaten.

During three days of intense questioning, Gates often feigned ignorance of his own companys policies and actions. He parsed everyday words or phrases such as “concern,” “support,” and “piss on.” Gates seemed to use the strategy to evade tough questions about whether his company abused its entrenched Windows franchise to kill off emerging competitors, such as Navigator and Java. To the surprise of him and his many attorneys and image handlers, Gates came off as argumentative, petty, and someone badly losing ground to a more formidable rival.

One example came in this exchange with David Boies, the private attorney hired by the Justice Department:

Boies: What non-Microsoft browsers were you concerned about in January of 1996?

Gates: I dont know what you mean “concerned.”

Boies: What is it about the word “concerned” that you dont understand?

Gates: Im not sure what you mean by it.

Boies: Is—

Gates: Is there a document where I use that term?

Boies: Is the term “concerned” a term that youre familiar with in the English language?

Gates: Yes.

Boies: Does it have a meaning that youre familiar with?

Gates: Yes.

Not particularly responsive

Justice Department lawyers played portions of the deposition during opening arguments and then periodically during as the trial progressed. Gates' attorneys were visibly vexed. Sitting in the gallery of the federal court room in Washington, DC, reporters broke into laughter more than once. Some of them had spent entire careers listening to Gates regularly launch verbal broadsides or wage one-sided arguments. For the first time, the tables were turned.

At one point, Thomas Penfield Jackson, the judge hearing the case, chuckled, too. When Microsoft lawyers argued during a closed-door session that the deposition was turning into a side show and government lawyers should be barred from showing any more segments during the trial, the judge denied the motion, saying: "If anything, I think your problem is with your witness, not with the way in which his testimony is being presented." Jackson continued:

I think it's evident to every spectator that, for whatever reasons, in many respects Mr. Gates has not been particularly responsive to his deposition interrogation. Everybody at your table has reflected skepticism as the testimony is presented.

Not long afterward, Gates appeared before reporters in a video news conference in Washington and told them Boies was "out to destroy Microsoft."

Greatest hits

Ive compiled some of the videotape segments that captured some of the more memorable deposition moments. Narrowing more than a dozen hours of video down to a handful of clips was challenging. In fairness to Gates, I mainly chose exchanges that showed him at his worst.

The first two examples, taped just before and just after a lunch break on August 28, 1998, are telling for Gates evasion and belligerence as he parses industry standard words such as “API”—short for application programming interface—not to mention everyday words such as “support” and “concern.”

During one of these exchanges, Boies asked about the terms for Microsoft giving Intuit an icon on the Active Desktop—the term for the Windows 98 home screen—that would allow users instant access to the tax preparation site.

Intuit CEO William Harriss office had already told government lawyers that Microsoft conditioned the placement on the bundling of IE with Intuit products and on not promoting Netscape on Intuit's websites or allowing Intuit's website customers to access Netscape's products or services.

The legal significance of such a policy was that Microsoft was using the monopoly power of Windows to promote IE, in violation of antitrust laws. Here, Gates tries to deflect questions about whether Will Poole, Microsofts senior director of business development, ever required Intuit to give preferential treatment to IE and less favorable treatment to Navigator.

Bill Gates Deposition

Degrading Netscape

In the months following the deposition, Gates reluctance to answer became clear. In February 1999, Justice Department attorneys called Poole as a witness and obtained his testimony that Microsoft routinely required companies that wanted top Active Desktop billing to create Web content that gave a “degradation in appearance” when viewed with non-IE browsers. Poole went on to say that Microsofts deal with Intuit required the latter to develop “some differentiated content” on its website with “acceptable degradation when used with other browsers.”

Gates' exchange with Boies starts to turn testy around 1:41:00 (or 11:48 am as noted in the video itself) after Gates repeatedly asks for a definition of the word “support.”

Bill Gates Deposition

Another tense moment starts around 9:23 (deposition clock time August 28, 12:47pm) in this segment as the topic turns to Java and whether Microsoft set out to kill its “write-once-run-anywhere” promise by creating a version that wasnt compatible with Suns. Boies presents Gates with an email from Ben Slivka, the Microsoft manager responsible for executing the Java strategy. The email notes that Gates recently “had a lot of pretty pointed questions about Java,” one of which was, “How do we wrest control of Java away from Sun?”

Bill Gates Deposition

For more than six minutes, Gates is unable to concede even the most basic of facts. That Slivka is working on behalf of Microsoft to forge its Java strategy, that Gates even received the email. Then Gates uses a non-denial denial when asked if Slivka was accurate in saying one of Gates questions involved Microsoft “wresting” control of Java from Sun.

Shortly afterward, Gates takes a similar approach when asked about an email, with the subject “Java schism,” that Gates received from Microsoft VP Paul Maritz. The stalling lasts more than six minutes.

Bill Gates Deposition

Things come to a head at 21:41 when Gates parses the words “proprietary API” and debates Boies on the semantics of the phrase. Boies finally snaps.

Bill Gates Deposition

Boies: Mr. Gates, is the term proprietary API a term that is commonly used in your business?

Gates: Let me give you …

Boies: all Im trying to do is …

Gates: … the common meanings that thoseRead More – Source

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Spain’s competition watchdog opens disciplinary case against Google



Spain’s competition watchdog, the ‘Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia’ (CNMC) has opened a disciplinary case against Google for alleged anti-competitive practices affecting publishers and Spanish news agencies, it said in a statement on Tuesday.

CNMC said it was investigating whether Google had abused its dominant position in the Spanish market. The proceedings involve Google LLC, Google Ireland Ltd, Google Spain, SL., and the overall parent company Alphabet Inc.

The alleged practices also include distorting free competition and imposing unfair conditions on press publishers and Spanish news agencies, CNMC said.

The watchdog’s investigation was sparked by a complaint from the Spanish Reproduction Rights Centre (CEDRO).

CNMC will investigate the case over the next 18 months, during which both sides can present their arguments.

According to RTVE, Spain’s national broadcaster, Google will analyse the file and respond to the ‘doubts’ of the CNMC. They said that Google ‘works constructively with publishers in Spain and Europe’ and would ‘need time to analyse the details … as the nature of the claims is still not clear’.

It is not the first action by the Spanish competition regulator against Google, nor the first in which its dominant position in the media sector stands out. In 2021, CNMC already warned that this company and another technology giant, Amazon, monopolised 70% of internet advertising in Spain.

Other lawsuits in the Netherlands and the UK have previously accused the technology company of abusing its dominance in the digital advertising market to harm its competitors. France also fined Google in 2021 for not negotiating in good faith compensation for the media for using its news content.


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How does technology affect reading and writing?



Technology has dramatically changed the way we read and write in the 21st century. From e-books and online articles to social media and instant messaging, technology has made reading and writing more accessible and convenient. However, it has also brought about new challenges and concerns.

One of the biggest benefits of technology is the increased access to information. With just a few clicks, people can access an endless supply of books, articles, and other written materials from all over the world. This has made reading and writing more accessible for people who may not have had the opportunity to do so in the past. It has also allowed for greater collaboration, as people can now share their writing and receive feedback from a global audience.

Technology has also made writing and reading more interactive. Social media and blogs have made it possible for people to engage with written content in real-time, sharing their thoughts, opinions, and experiences with others. This has led to a more dynamic and engaged reading and writing community, with people able to communicate and connect with each other in new and meaningful ways.

However, there are also concerns about how technology is affecting our ability to read and write. One of the biggest concerns is the decline of attention span. With so much information available at our fingertips, it can be difficult to stay focused and absorb what we are reading. Many people find it difficult to concentrate on longer written works, and are instead drawn to shorter, more bite-sized pieces of content.

Additionally, technology has led to an increase in informal writing. The widespread use of text messaging and instant messaging has led to the widespread use of shorthand and abbreviations. This has created concerns about the impact it may have on people’s writing skills, as well as the way they communicate with others.

Another concern is the rise of “fake news.” With the ease of publishing content online, it has become increasingly difficult to differentiate between credible and unreliable sources. This has led to a decline in trust in the media, and has created a need for critical thinking and media literacy skills.

Despite these concerns, technology has also provided new opportunities for writing and reading. E-books and online platforms have made it easier for people to self-publish their work, giving them greater control over the distribution and promotion of their writing. This has created a more democratized publishing industry, and has made it possible for voices and perspectives that may have previously been excluded to be heard.

In conclusion, technology has had a profound impact on reading and writing. While there are certainly challenges and concerns, the increased access to information, the ability to connect and engage with others, and the opportunities for self-publishing have all made reading and writing more accessible and dynamic. As technology continues to evolve, it will be important to address the challenges it presents and embrace the opportunities it provides.

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How to measure human intelligence?



Measuring human intelligence is a complex task that has been attempted by many experts and researchers over the years. Intelligence is often defined as an individual’s ability to think, reason, and solve problems. However, this definition is not enough to capture all the aspects of intelligence. In this article, we will look at some of the ways that human intelligence can be measured and evaluated.

  1. Intelligence Quotient (IQ) Tests: IQ tests are the most commonly used method of measuring intelligence. They are designed to measure an individual’s ability to solve problems, think logically, and understand abstract concepts. The results of an IQ test are expressed as an IQ score, which is a number that represents a person’s intellectual abilities in comparison to the general population.
  2. Achievement Tests: Achievement tests are designed to evaluate an individual’s knowledge and skills in specific subjects such as mathematics, reading, or science. These tests can be a good indicator of a person’s intelligence in a particular subject area and are often used in schools and colleges to assess students’ abilities.
  3. Neuropsychological Tests: Neuropsychological tests are used to evaluate the functioning of the brain and nervous system. These tests can be used to diagnose neurological disorders, measure cognitive abilities, and determine the impact of injury or illness on a person’s cognitive abilities.
  4. Cognitive Ability Tests: Cognitive ability tests are designed to measure an individual’s mental abilities such as memory, reasoning, and problem-solving. These tests can be useful in determining a person’s potential for learning and development.
  5. Behavioral Assessment: Behavioral assessment involves evaluating an individual’s behavior, including their social skills, emotional regulation, and communication abilities. This type of assessment can be useful in identifying areas where an individual may need support or intervention.
  6. Performance-Based Tests: Performance-based tests are designed to measure an individual’s abilities in real-world tasks and activities. These tests can be useful in determining a person’s practical intelligence and can be used in a variety of settings, including schools, workplaces, and healthcare facilities.

It is important to note that no single method of measuring intelligence is perfect and each has its own strengths and limitations. Additionally, the results of intelligence tests can be influenced by many factors such as cultural background, education, and experience. As a result, it is important to use a variety of assessment methods to get a more comprehensive understanding of an individual’s intelligence.

In conclusion, measuring human intelligence is a complex task that involves evaluating a variety of cognitive, behavioral, and performance-based abilities. While intelligence tests can provide valuable information about a person’s intellectual abilities, it is important to use a variety of assessment methods to get a more comprehensive understanding of an individual’s intelligence. By using a combination of tests, experts and researchers can get a more complete picture of an individual’s intellectual abilities and potential for learning and development.

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