Microsoft chairman Bill Gates said this week that he doesn't expect his company to be broken up by the federal government. Also, the recent management change at Microsoft, which saw Gates hand over the CEO role to president Steve Ballmer, is not related to the antitrust trial that the company faces. Gates made the comments in a Thursday afternoon interview with NBC's Today show.
"\[Breaking up Microsoft\] is not something that would make sense, it's not anything that we expect to have happen and we think it's reckless that that's being discussed by the government," said Gates, verifying earlier reports in WinInfo and other news agencies that the government is indeed looking to break up his company.
However, Gates says, Microsoft is open to a settlement. And a story about breaking up Microsoft, which now seems to have been purposely leaked by the DOJ or sources close to it, may be used as a bargaining chip in an attempt to get Microsoft to agree to more drastic concessions. Representatives from Microsoft and the government have been holding settlement talks in Chicago this week.
"There are settlement talks going on and we would love to settle the case," Gates said. "But it's not related to the management change we have made. We feel confident that either through settlement or through the legal process Microsoft will be allowed to continue to help consumers the way we have been."
On a related note, shares of Microsoft rose $2 Friday, a sign that investors were largely unaffected by the news of Gates' move from CEO to "Chief Software Architect." Analysts had long predicted that any move by Microsoft to remove Gates from power would result in a sudden devaluation of the company's stock. However the natural transition from Gates to Ballmer, who was earlier appointed president of the company, was greeted by collective yawns in the investment community. The fact that Gates will be working closely with the company's software developers may play a part in that attitude