WASHINGTON (CNN/Money) -
Following on the heels of Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates' testimony, the executive in charge of Windows testified Thursday that Microsoft's programs, such as Internet Explorer, are fundamentally a part of Windows and can't be removed.
Christopher Jones, Microsoft's vice president of the Windows Client Team, testified that the proposed remedy by the non-settling states -- which would force Microsoft to offer stripped-down versions off Windows with and without the other programs like Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player -- would be impossible for Microsoft to implement. Jones said that the settlement with the Department of Justice and nine states makes much more sense.
But under cross examination, Jones admitted that settlement still allows Microsoft to exercise large amounts of control over what can and can't be pre-loaded by computer makers to appear on the Windows desktop and in the Start Menu.
The courts found that Microsoft (MSFT: Research, Estimates) illegally prevented computer makers from replacing the Internet Explorer icon with Netscape Navigator icon in order to crush its rival. The current hearings, under U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, will decide what restrictions will be imposed on Microsoft as a remedy for that and other illegal behavior. Gates has repeatedly complained that the remedies under consideration would be technically impossible to comply with or would force Microsoft to withdraw its Windows operating system from the market and force widespread layoffs at the company.
The Department of Justice and half of the states involved in the original antitrust case reached a settlement with Microsoft in November. But nine states -- California, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Utah and West Virginia, along with the District of Columbia -- broke with the Justice Department's remedy proposal, arguing that it wasn't strong enough. Judge Kollar-Kotelly will decide what sort of remedies are appropriate based on the hearings, now in their sixth week.
Under questioning by states' lawyer Kevin Hodges, Jones admitted that under the settlement, if computer makers want to put icons for non-Microsoft products on the desktop, they also have to put icons for Microsoft's products. Further, Windows XP includes software that will automatically remove those icons after two weeks if they're not used.
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Jones also admitted that Microsoft would still control what programs would be automatically launched by Windows, even though there is no technical reason computer makers couldn't put other software in instead.
As for the states' proposal that Internet Explorer code be removed from some versions of Windows, Jones said that would be impossible because there is no chunk of software code called Internet Explorer. Jones insisted that Internet Explorer was part of Windows and not a separate application -- contrary to previous court rulings on the subject.
But Jones insisted. Whenever asked about Internet Explorer, Jones would instead refer to "Internet browsing components of Windows."
At one point, Hodges asked him whether a certain file was part of Internet Explorer or part of the operating system.
"It's not an 'or' question -- Internet Explorer is part of the operating system," said Jones adding "it's a very confusing question."
Jones said that a modular form of Windows, as stipulated under the states' proposed remedy, would wind up with all sorts of versions of the operating systems being called "Windows", many of which wouldn't live up to "the customer promises we make."
Hodges then asked him whether he thought people buy Windows because it works better or if they get it because Microsoft holds a monopoly on PC operating systems.
"I don't think people buy Windows because Microsoft has a monopoly," said Hodges. "I come to work every day to build great products that people are going to love."
Jones, Microsoft's eighth of as many as 30 witnesses, will return to the stand after a break.
--from CNNfn producer Elliot Zaret