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Dissent at MS over trial? Nope, PR spin…

Have those spinmeisters been planting stories again?

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MS on Trial A strange Dow Jones News story suggests that there is internal dissension at Microsoft over the antitrust case, although no relevant sources are named. At first it looks as though it's a mildly critical piece designed to assert independence. But closer examination suggests that Microsoft PR could be involved. There is a suggestion that Gates, Ballmer, Neukom and Herbold are the hard guys who "call the shots". That's pretty obvious, so no points for that. Microsoft spokesman Mark Murray had not met anyone in Microsoft "who believes that the government's accusations have any merit", so no credit for that either. It reports that "one senior Microsoft executive emerged from the witness stand badly shaken up - and resentful" of DoJ trial counsel David Boies' cross-examination, with adverse effects "on internal morale". Surely that should read "nine Microsoft witnesses were feeling resentful". The evidence of Gary Norris of IBM about Microsoft's bullying was also said to have upset many inside Microsoft who "had long viewed IBM as the bully". That suggestion must be credited to Microsoft PR. Then there's the claim that "the flow of email among concerned managers" has increased. That's hardly surprising, and should provide some interesting disclosures in future rounds of the case. There is an implication that "managers" in Microsoft's research and consumer products were "looking more intensely for a silver lining", but later the article notes that the possible spin off of the MSN business, and perhaps the whole consumer business, had been considered but rejected some months ago. The plus factors were thought at the time to be the possibility of attracting better MSN senior staff because a separate business could offer superior stock options than Microsoft. If there is any substance in the resurrection of the MSN spin-off story, we think it is more likely to be an attempt by some people in Microsoft consumer products to get better stock options for themselves, as well as a realisation that MSN will not be a great success in its latest incarnation. As for the reason for this strange story, it looks like a collaboration with Microsoft PR, and we await a follow-up along the lines that "morale has improved amongst senior Microsoft managers, who are solidly behind Microsoft's appeal, in view of the horrid things that Judge Jackson had to say about Microsoft's business ethics". ® Complete Register Trial coverage

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