Microsoft Addresses Obstruction, Corporate Culture

Microsoft said that week that it did nothing to obstruct justice in its European antitrust case, while CEO Steve Ballmer, in Florida for a Gartner conference, defended Microsoft's corporate culture, which he describes as hard working and bright, if a little surprised by the disdain it receives from the outside world. The company addressed obstruction charges in a letter to the Wall Street Journal, which revealed details of a confidential European Union (EU) memo to Microsoft, in which the EU accused the company of willfully misleading its investigators. The WSJ also reported that Microsoft had falsified supportive letters from customers.

"We have done nothing to hinder the Commission's investigation. We have cooperated fully," wrote John Frank, a senior corporate lawyer for Microsoft. "But there are no allegations in the statement of objections that these \[letters from customers\] have been falsified."

Meanwhile, Steve Ballmer explained to attendees in analysts at the Gartner Symposium that Microsoft had grown up too fast, and as an "800 pound gorilla," it still acted like the scrappy upstart. "Nobody wants to be the 800 pound gorilla that no one can get along with," he said in response to a question about Microsoft being the Evil Empire. "We have a lot of zest and passion. If we don't have customers, we want to know why. Just being large and passionate--it gets hard for the positive impulse to come out."

One thing Ballmer has learned after years of litigation and court time is that the company has to do a better job of working with its partners. "Our industry is built on having an ecosystem," he said. "We are humbled that people we thought were close partners didn't come out and support us." Ballmer noted that he recently had discussions with Oracle CEO Larry Ellison in order to ensure that Oracle's products work well with Microsoft's. "Our company has to be viewed more positively by the computing industry," he added.

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