WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal judge who ordered Microsoft split in two last year compares Bill Gates to Napoleon — even musing that the company founder should be required to write a book report on him — and said Microsoft executives behave like children.
"I think he has a Napoleonic concept of himself and his company, an arrogance that derives from power and unalloyed success, with no leavening hard experience, no reverses," Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson says of Gates in the Jan. 8 issue of The New Yorker.
Of company officials, Jackson says, "They don't act like grown-ups!"
The story recounts the failed mediation that followed his ruling in November 1999 that the company was an illegal monopoly. Jackson also said he had mistrusted the company since finding it had violated a 1995 consent decree.
Jackson ordered Microsoft split in two on June 7. The company is appealing that order before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The government is expected to file its brief by Friday.
Jackson said Microsoft's lead attorney, William Neukom, is "not very smart, or at least I don't think he has any subtlety." Neukom, he said, should have advised the company that "the time has come for us to be flexible."'
By contrast, the government's chief litigator, David Boies, was the best lawyer ever to appear in his courtroom, Jackson said.
In its appeal, filed in November, Microsoft said the interviews Jackson has given are evidence that he is biased against the company. Jackson gave a newspaper interview — rare for a federal judge — immediately after ordering Microsoft's breakup on June 7, in which he said he had little choice but to accept the government's breakup proposal.
"By repeatedly commenting on the merits of the case in the press," the company's brief argued, "the district judge has cast himself in the public's eye as a participant in the controversy, thereby compromising the appearance of impartiality, if not demonstrating actual bias against Microsoft."
The New Yorker also reported that negotiations between the government and Microsoft almost produced a settlement in March, but the demands of the 19 state attorneys general who joined the suit scrapped the agreement.