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MS lobbies congress to oppose ‘regulatory death sentence’

But it's just information, not a leak from the talks, honest...

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Microsoft's lobbying efforts have gone into overdrive, with an email sent to US Congress representatives last week describing breakup as "a regulatory death sentence" for the company. Talks about a possible settlement of the Microsoft case are currently being conducted by Judge Richard Posner, who has required absolute secrecy. The latest email therefore sails somewhat close to the wind. It says Microsoft is willing to accept a "common sense" settlement involving some restrictions on its conduct, but rejects breakup. Could you call this a leak? That kind of depends on what they've been discussing behind closed doors. In an interview with AP yesterday Microsoft president and CEO Steve Ballmer certainly didn't call it a leak; in his book Microsoft is just keeping lawmakers informed of its position, and keeping them educated on its point of view. The email certainly seems to have been more of a manifesto for Microsoft than a nudge that the company would indeed be willing to settle. It uses the briefs filed by Microsoft's friends of court, and includes some of the opinion poll data that 'proves' that ordinary Americans don't want Microsoft broken up or beaten up too badly. So it's clearly not in exactly the same territory as the previous leak, which seemed to emanate from the government side (we still think it was the States), and which was at least based on information that was to be discussed via mediator Posner. Nevertheless, the good judge might still get a bit tetchy. ®

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