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A software developer testified Monday that a decision by Microsoft in the 1990s meant that Novell would have had to release an inferior product when Windows 95 was launched. Instead, Utah-based Novell contends its attempt to compete was severely damaged after it had to delay releasing a version of WordPerfect compatible with Microsoft's new operating system.

Testimony by Adam Harral, a former WordPerfect and Novell software developer and manager, opened the second week of a trial in an antitrust lawsuit bought by Novell against Microsoft that is being heard by a jury in federal court in Salt Lake City.

Novell claims that Microsoft used the launch of the Windows 95 to stall a new version of WordPerfect and the spreadsheet Quattro Pro, both of which Novell had acquired in the mid-90s.

A successful WordPerfect and Quattro Pro could have functioned on other operating systems, and Microsoft believed that functionality could harm its monopoly, Novell contends.

Harral, now a software consultant, testified that a feature that Microsoft had planned for Windows 95 then withdrew support for would have allowed Novell to continue to offer some of the same functions to customers who used earlier WordPerfect versions based on the DOS operating system.

"We could have [undone] all the work they put into the product," Harral said about Novell's belief it would lose customers without those features.

But David Tulchin, a New York attorney representing Microsoft, directed Harral to a picture of a Windows screen to illustrate that Novell could have placed WordPerfect on either the "start" button or as an icon on the desktop of Windows 95 even without the feature at issue in the trial.

He also brought up memos that showed some internal dissension among work groups at Novell to try to point the 12-person jury to what Microsoft contends was Novell's own missteps and bad decisions that delayed the launch of products compatible with Windows 95.

Novell claims that it lost about $1 billion after it bought WordPerfect and then sold it about a year a half later when a new CEO determined the company had lost focus in trying to compete broadly with Microsoft.

The trial is expected to last six more weeks. Bill Gates, the former CEO and current chairman of Microsoft, is scheduled to testify next month about the decision he made to not continue to support the Windows 95 feature. That feature allowed folders and files to be displayed as lists in a separate window.

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