U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson handed Microsoft a defeat Thursday, ruling that CEO Bill Gates must make himself available for a government deposition for "as long as necessary."
The judge also ordered the software giant to turn over its most valuable asset, the source code to the Windows operating system, to the government.
Microsoft's lawyers were barely ruffled by the judge's ruling, announcing that the company would file a motion on Monday to throw out the government's antitrust case before it goes to trial. Microsoft lawyer John Warden told Jackson that the government has no evidence that any rival has been shoved out of the market for Internet browsing software.
Microsoft had tried to restrict questioning of Gates to just one eight-hour session and had objected that the Windows code would not be adequately protected from misuse.
But the Justice Department said that no one with access to the secret code would be allowed to work for a competitor for 18 months. And Jackson said the questioning of Gates should go on as scheduled on Aug. 12, with the promise to Microsoft that he'd be prepared to act immediately to stop the deposition if the government becomes abusive or harassing.
Written By Rex Nutting