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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

November 3, 2006 at 12:26 PM

Ballmer, Gates called to testify in Iowa

An Iowa judge presiding over a class-action antitrust suit against Microsoft wants to hear directly from Microsoft’s top two leaders, Chairman Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer.

A jury hearing the suit seeking $450 million for Iowans who bought Microsoft software is set to begin Nov. 13.

From The Associated Press:

Polk County District Judge Scott Rosenberg said the request by plaintiffs’ attorney Roxanne Conlin to have Gates and Ballmer appear in person was not unreasonable.

“The requested witnesses are in important decision-making positions for the defendant,” he wrote in an opinion dated Thursday. “The jury should be allowed to view them live during both parties’ case presentation to observe their demeanor and help the jury to assess their credibility. This method of questioning by both parties will make the witnesses’ interrogation and presentation effective for the ascertainment of the truth.”

[Microsoft attorney Rich] Wallis said the two executives had planned on appearing at the trial and the motion seeking a judge’s order was unnecessary.

“She was going to have the opportunity to ask any questions she wanted of Bill and Steve when they came to Iowa as part of our case,” Wallis said. “I think she wanted to call them first in her case and asked the judge permission to do so.”

Update: A Microsoft spokesman said the last time Gates testified in person was in 2002 during the remedy phase of the big antitrust case. Ballmer has never taken the stand in an antitrust case. The spokesman also noted that in the Iowa case, the two executives were already on Microsoft’s witness list, submitted Sept. 22. The judge’s order is about when during the trial they will appear.

Here’s coverage of Gates’ performance on the stand in 2002. See direct excerpts here.

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