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11:36 AM

IT Confidential

Last week, Bill Gates, like a petulant child threatening to leave the school yard with his ball, said he would pull the Windows operating system off the market if the nine states still pushing the Microsoft monopoly case succeeded in forcing their proposed remedies. In his testimony in federal court, Gates reportedly said he would be forced to kill Windows rather than have to support the multiple versions demanded by the states. There isn't an Enron executive's chance in court that Gates & Co. would actually pull Windows off the market, but the statement might have caused a few shivers of anxiety down the backs of business-technology managers. What am I going to use on the desktop if I don't have Windows?-wait, doesn't the marketing department have those funny-looking Apple computers? And doesn't the Web-support team use that freebie thing called Linux? Come to think of it, I wasn't planning to upgrade to Windows XP anyway. Maybe this isn't such a bad idea, after all. ...

Computer Associates last week said it had reached a settlement with the Justice Department in a civil suit, filed on Sept. 28, 2001, related to CA's May 1999 acquisition of Platinum Technology. The feds accused CA of what they called "gun jumping," which means CA was acting like it owned Platinum before it did, including making decisions on products and marketing. As part of the settlement, "which includes no admission of wrongdoing by CA," according to a statement from the company, CA has agreed to pay the government $638,000. CA said it was "pleased to have this matter resolved and to be able to maintain its focus on delivering value to CA's customers and shareholders."

Microsoft childishness, part 2. Xbox, Microsoft's less-than-stellar entry into the video-game market, is losing momentum faster than Al Gore's next presidential campaign. But that wasn't the reason for last week's departure of Seamus Blackley, Xbox co-developer, from the Redmond, Wash., software stronghold. Blackley reportedly left to head his own video-game company, which he will unveil at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas next month.

Lucent Technologies has tapped Ruth Bruch as its senior VP and CIO, effective next month. Bruch, 48, will be responsible for reengineering Lucent's IT infrastructure and for the implementation of SAP enterprise software. Bruch most recently served as VP and CIO of Visteon, one of the major automotive suppliers, where she led an effort to replace the company's legacy systems. She will report to Lucent chief operating officer Bob Holder.

Egenera, an enterprise infrastructure vendor, has tapped Debbie Miller as its next CEO. Miller is perhaps best known as the person who launched the AS/400 while she was at IBM. She's also worked for Silicon Graphics, Digital Equipment, and most recently Covia, the portal software company. Egenera's current CEO, Vern Brownell, will become the company's CTO. Brownell left his job as CTO of Goldman Sachs to found Egenera two years ago.

Speaking of high-profile testimony, Hewlett-Packard chief Carly Fiorina was forced last week to explain just what she meant when she told Deutsche Bank officials that their vote in favor of her proposed buyout of Compaq was "of great importance to our ongoing relationship." In Walter Hewlett's suit in Delaware Chancery Court to block HP's acquisition of Compaq, Hewlett claims HP coerced Deutsche Bank's support and misled other investors about the progress of the merger. On her third day on the stand, Fiorina testified she never threatened Duetsche Bank with losing HP's financial-services business, and she defended her remarks-a transcript of which was read in court-as a common way for a CEO to talk with investment bankers she does business with.

That's how I talk to my bankers! I call 'em up and tell 'em how important their hard work is to our ongoing relationship, and they say, "If you want to access your account, press 1; if you want to apply for a loan, press 2 ..." If you want to send me an industry tip, press [email protected] or dial 516-562-5326. If you want to talk about a Windows-less world, meet me at's Listening Post:

To discuss this column with other readers, please visit John Soat's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about John Soat, please visit his page on the Listening Post.

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