‘Leaked’ Gates email spins party line on AOL

Is this a Microsoft plant, or should somebody shoot us old cynics now?

One night last month Bill Gates phoned an Associated Press reporter at home so he could bitch about the way the DoJ had questioned him, and say what a good memory he had really. (Gates moans to AP) Yesterday, an email he sent to Microsoft execs on Tuesday mysteriously fell into the clutches of… Associated Press. The content of the memo as published by AP heaps further suspicion on top of the initial strange coincidence. For some reason His Billness felt the need to tell his execs all sorts of things they either already knew, or knew he knew. For example: "The DoJ must be very dismayed at this merger [AOL-Netscape]" - as this has been the Microsoft corporate line for over a week, one can assume the corporate high command should already have heard this. He compares giving away IE to TV companies showing programmes for free, because the Internet produces "so much advertising revenue that you maximise revenue by giving them away free to drive usage." He told AP something similar in his phone call two weeks ago, and one can presume that this is a handy parallel Microsoft has polished up in the past month or so to explain why giving away IE was nothing to do with cutting off Netscape's air supply. It might have been helpful if somebody had thought this one up before Bill made his unfortunate deposition. But here's another bit of playing to a gallery that seems to be somewhere bound the ostensible recipients of the email: "The company that helped [make] sure consumers got a fair price for browsers has the DoJ attacking it on behalf of the company that did not." He also points out that AOL gives away its browser (currently an IE variant), and usefully adds that he expects AOL to terminate its contract with Microsoft eventually, following the merger. "AOL will distribute Netscape browser software for free to its 20 million instant-messaging customers, and sooner or later to all its online service customers, too." So there you have it. Is Bill giving his execs a free and frank statement of his views on the trial, or is he doing a reprise of the 'why the DoJ is being incredibly unfair and vindictive to Bill and Microsoft' interview? Well, the Associated Press story based on the 'leaked' memo went on the wires at around 3pm Seattle time, and it was ostensibly sent on Tuesday. It takes time to write these things, it takes time to check their bona fides, and of course it takes time for them to leak. If this one did 'leak,' then it has to have done it almost immediately. ® Complete Register trial coverage

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