Microsoft Evidence: A No-Show for IBM re Linux?

Posted by tadelste on Feb 24, 2006 6:43 AM EDT; By Tom Adelstein
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Congress may have failed to take into account Microsoft's special effects department. Instead of focusing on the movies, this might turn out as reality TV. Have you heard about the case of the disappearing email?


When IBM goes shopping for key information related to Microsoft's involvement in the SCO scandal, defendant IBM may discover smoke in a bottle. While the Federal Government established rules under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (Sox) aimed at preventing the shredding of documents, they may not have anticipated Microsoft. One judge discovered even after the establishment of Sox that Microsoft adopted policies that, to put it mildly, encouraged document destruction from 1995 forward.

While Sox demands retention of documents, the evidence needed may fall outside the domain of the Act. You should look at the American Institute of CPA's summary of Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which shows that evidence relates to financial issues.

Case of the self destructing email

If you ever watched "Mission:Impossible", then you might think the show inspired the self-destructing message reportedly used in Redmond. Imagine an email with a trigger device that goes up in smoke. That's what discovered in its case against Microsoft.

A court casereferenced in a comment on Lxer gives you an idea of what Microsoft can do to Sox. From the article:

The latest court documents to be unsealed by Judge Frederick Motz in's suit against Microsoft paint a picture of Microsoft document handling procedures which destroyed the very emails that were likely to be most relevant to several antitrust actions, Burst's included. According to Burst's lawyers Microsoft's status as "a defendant in major antitrust cases since at least 1995" means that it has a duty to preserve potentially relevant evidence. But "Microsoft adopted policies that, to put it mildly, encouraged document destruction from 1995 forward."

As Microsoft's retention policies remain for the moment a closely-guarded secret it would be absolutely wrong of us to draw any inference as to what they might be solely from what happens. What happens, though, is pretty damn peculiar. The system as a whole defaults to swift destruction of employees' emails, while there is clear evidence that Microsoft takes a very narrow view of whose documents may be relevant to a particular case. In some cases its choice of 'relevant' employees to be subject to retention seems perverse and misleading.

Flim-Flam you say. Let's just see Microsoft as a self-learning entity that had a crucial lesson in its long court case in the US v Microsoft. The best lawyers money could buy almost lost it.

But the glamour company of the 1990s may have made its last millionaire. One can hardly ignore the anti-trust cases in Korea and the EU. They made a slight blunder in the handling of the Peter Quinn affair in Massachusetts. Now, IBM wants to know the big Redmond company's involvement in trying to kill off Linux.

On October 1, 2004, at an appearance at the Computer History Museum in northern California, someone asked Bill Gates about a possible threat from Linux and Gates replied: "Microsoft has had competitors in the past. It's a good thing we have museums to document this stuff."

Well, perhaps he has it backwards.

» Read more about: Story Type: LXer Features; Groups: IBM, SCO

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A looming embarrassment for Big Bluescreen? cr 5 2,210 Feb 26, 2006 12:08 AM

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