Microsoft takes its message to the people

With a steady stream of bad news behind it, Microsoft Corporation began a public relations offensive over the weekend, with TV and newspaper ads explaining its innocence in the antitrust trial that's dominate business headlines for almost two years. Beginning with prepared statements that were made available shortly after the government released its proposed remedy for the software giant--which involves splitting Microsoft into two separate companies and heavily monitoring its behavior for years--Microsoft officials have taken their message to the people in a bid to sway public opinion to their side. And it's a jihad that's likely to last until May 10, when the company intends to publicize its own remedy proposal, one that will no doubt be far less dramatic than that issued by the DOJ last week.

"We believe the government’s extreme regulations would be a major setback for consumers, the high-technology industry and the American economy," the company states in an open letter published in national newspapers Monday. "Nothing in the lawsuit against Microsoft justifies the harsh restrictions that the government is now seeking to place on Microsoft’s innovation and product design ... The government wants to tear Microsoft apart, depriving the company of its flagship Windows operating system products, and denying Windows users of exciting new technologies now under development at Microsoft, such as speech and gesture recognition. The government even wants to ban any further improvements to the Internet Explorer software in Windows—software that has made access to the Web easy for tens of millions of people around the world. Restrictions such as these would stifle innovation, make computers less capable and more expensive."

A short TV ad featuring Microsoft president Steve Ballmer attempts to put a more personal face on the company; while many people still look up to Bill Gates as the person behind Microsoft's success, it is also his personality that has seemingly gotten the company in so much trouble lately. "When I joined Bill Gates and Microsoft 20 years ago, the PC was very new; this year, three people buy one every second," Ballmer says in the ad. "Innovation is spreading through our economy. It's creating new jobs; changing our lives; and helping children learn. Now I'm the president of Microsoft, and we're still focused on innovating, delivering value and listening to customers. Technology is fueling America's economy; our next generation of software will do even more. The best is yet to come."

A Microsoft spokesperson sums up the company's desire to get its message out. "We think it’s important to communicate directly with the American people about the importance of the high-tech industry to our economy," he says. "The company has been in the news a lot lately, and it’s important to be clear with our customers about what we stand for, and why we are working so hard to create next-generation software and services for them.

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