As the Iowa antitrust trial of  Microsoft Corp. enters its eighth  week, the plaintiffs continue to  attempt to paint a picture for the jury of  a company that would stop at nothing  to destroy its competitors.

Last week, David Bradford, former  general counsel for Novell Inc., testified  about Microsoft's attempts to merge  with Novell after it acquired Digital  Research Inc., a company that was making  DR-DOS, an operating system to  compete with Microsoft Windows. Bradford  said the purpose of the merger  talks was to either destroy DR-DOS or  simply derail its development.

"Microsoft asked Novell to hold off  on integrating DR-DOS until the merger  talks were complete," said Kent  Williams, a co-counsel for the plaintiffs.

"After a few months of negotiations,  they abruptly pulled the plug.The merger  talks were just a façade to disrupt the  integration of DRI."

Rich Wallis, associate general counsel  at Microsoft, said during cross examination,  Bradford admitted he didn't have a  lot of personal knowledge of the subject.  Wallis also said Bradford had been  working with the plaintiffs for a long  time, helping them line up witnesses  and being paid for his services.

Also last week, Polk County District  Judge Scott Rosenberg ruled that  Microsoft attorneys cannot ask the four  named plaintiffs about their personal  connections with co-lead counsel Roxanne  Conlin. Wallis said Conlin opened  the door for questions about her personal  relationships during jury selection  and opening statements by portraying  them as "regular people who stepped  forward to be a part of this case."

Wallis said the lead plaintiff, Joe  Comes, is Conlin's son's best friend  from high school.

"These people were recruited so this  case could be brought," he said. "They  are trying to portray these people as  doing a public service."

A juror also was dismissed from the  case last week for personal reasons.  Williams said juror dismissals are not  unusual in lengthy trials and the case  will not be affected.