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MS pushes write to congress campaign via Windows Update

'Soo.. I wrote mine and said to nail them to the cross...'

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Updated Back in May 1995 Bill Gates signed off his Internet Tidal Wave document with: "Customers will come to our 'home page' in unbelievable numbers and find out everything we want them to know." (Full analysis) This is one of our all-time favourite Bill Gates quotes, and this week its meaning became even clearer, when Microsoft added a 'write your congressman' feature to its Windows Update site. An exquisite piece of integration, don't you think? Windows Update is the Windows 98 feature that integrates the Web into the software update process, and as far as Microsoft is concerned it's the way forward. As it's implemented and extended in other Microsoft operating systems it will allow Microsoft to build direct links between itself and all Windows users, to exercise absolute control over the feature set of the software those users are running, and to allow those users "to find out everything we want them to know." The Windows Update site figured heavily in last week's courtroom wrangles, but strangely enough it didn't then have anything about Microsoft's battle with the DoJ on it. Now it has a button that takes you through to Microsoft's "Freedom to Innovate" section, which gives you details of Microsoft's take on the trial, and tells you how to write to lobby elected officials on Microsoft's behalf. Justice department lawyer David Boies suspects nefarious intent, but Microsoft says it was just a routine update (as opposed to a Windows 98 Update?). The DoJ reckons this update was deliberately kept back last week so the judge wouldn't see it, and accuses Microsoft of using its monopoly to "propagate a political message." Putting it on a site which is allegedly intended simply to provide an easy mechanism for keeping your software up to snuff is certainly dubious, but then that wasn't really the point of the Windows Update site at all, was it? If you pull in the audience then you're going to want to sell them stuff while they're there, aren't you? But actually, Windows Update doesn't seem to be pulling them in. Windows Update reportedly got 3.5 million visitors last month, accounting for a third of Microsoft's corporate online traffic. As a percentage of total Windows 98 users this isn't particularly impressive, and suggests that most users of 98 probably only visits the site once, during the installation process. That means Windows Update is a failure so far, but we exclusively predict that that also means that bells and whistles involving far more frequent visits will be added in future OS revs. You read it here first. Swiftly following on the above story, a reader writes: "Yup, hit MS update to get a plugin, biggest blurb was about my ability to let my Washington Carpet Bagger know how much I loved MS. That I could write anything I pleased, not like 'some' of those petitions that were prewritten. Soo... I wrote mine and said to nail them to the cross. "God, I've wanted to do that ever since MS insisted I use IE to register Money... P.S. Today's download failed after 15 minutes." The Register your interactive friend in the media. ® Complete Register Trial coverage

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