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Rohm on the Microsoft range

His Billness starts pre-emptive spin war against book

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"File this in the fiction section" is Microsoft spokesman Greg Shaw's advice about Wendy Goldman Rohm's book "The Microsoft File. The secret case against Bill Gates" [Times Books, Random House, NY] to be published on 8 September. Rohm is a freelance journalist who uses a fly-on-the-wall style to describe scenes that Microsoft would rather keep hidden. Her sources include many interviews, some deep throats, and a few Microsoft internal documents that have not previously been seen publicly. Rohm's detailed references were dropped from the final text on legal advice. Her story dwells on examples of sexual harassment (the suit was dropped, Microsoft's Shaw says); and details of bugging devices that happened to be found in a hotel room occupied by John Cannavino of IBM the day before Microsoft was to make a lip-service commitment to support OS/2. For the main part, however, the book is an account of the first antitrust action against Microsoft, and the resulting consent decree. It includes the basic details of Microsoft's techno-sabotage of DR-DOS, the techno-piracy of products that Microsoft could not develop itself (Stac's compression of MS-DOS, for example) and anti-competitive marketing practices against any competitor. Most of this is in the public domain. Revisiting these near-forgotten episodes as Microsoft is about to answer the Department of Justice's latest accusations in court is of course deliberate timing by the publisher -- to cause maximum embarrassment, and maximum sales of the book. Microsoft evidently regards the potential damage as being sufficiently serious to start a disparagement campaign against the book, claiming that Rohm had "admitted" to "fictionalising" in the introduction. The campaign is not working, since the book is already being reprinted before publication. ®

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