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Microsoft president and CEO Steve Ballmer has emailed the troops with a morale-boster on the settlement talks, but from the phrasing it looks written very much for public consumption. Microsoft has used this PR trick before, when supposedly confidential memos from Bill Gates to Microsoft executives have been specifically written for stage-managed 'leaks'. Ballmer's memo contains classic Microsoft remarks such as: "Any settlement must preserve our ability to innovate and improve our products," which is and has been the company line since time immemorial. Ballmer claims that Microsoft has "put more on the table than the judicial process would ultimately provide, even if we lost the case", and that "we have made, and will continue to make, substantial proposals to settle". Ballmer also said that five top executives, including Gates, were on the job, working "hard and creatively" to achieve a settlement. He adds that "While we're very sure of our legal position and we're prepared to take it all the way on appeal, we've learned that discretion is the better part of valour, so we're working very hard to resolve the case through settlement". The email does not detail any proposed settlement terms, but in a classic propaganda technique, it damns the media for "largely inaccurate" reports and makes the claim that it is not true that the DoJ regards Microsoft's proposed terms as "inadequate". But from leaked information from the plaintiff states' lawyers, it would appear that Ballmer's ideas as to what constitute "a fair settlement" remain far from those envisaged by most of his opponents. ®

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