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MS on Trial Microsoft's strategy for its appeal in the court of public opinion has been revealed by a lucky chance, when a market research pollster who was surely working for Microsoft  called a WSJ reporter. It's not absolutely certain who the firm involved was working for, Microsoft won't confirm that it's the client, but the questions seem awfully pertinent. Presuming it was Microsoft, from the ensuing half hour of questioning we learn that Microsoft is concerned about Bill Gates' image ("Do you think Bill Gates is honest?" and was he "ethical/generous/a good family man?"); that Microsoft is trying to see how bad the damage is ("Do you agree... Microsoft violated antitrust laws?"); and whether people felt their portfolios had suffered ("Whom would you blame for this week's stock market dip?"). While the damage assessment is in progress, Microsoft has started trying to undertake some repair work with a  new TV ad campaign that started yesterday, starring Bill Gates - unusually speaking directly to camera on the Microsoft campus, and backed by an acoustic guitar. There's no mention of the antitrust case, but the intent of the message is clear enough. All the usual feelgood sound-bites are there: "Twenty-five years ago, my friends and I started with nothing but an idea... harness the power of the PC... improve peoples' lives... profound effect on how we live... how our children learn... our goal at Microsoft is to create the next generation of software, to keep innovating... the best is yet to come." COO Bob "Innovation" Herbold appears to be the behind the campaign. The ad is replacing other Microsoft ad campaigns, and will be shown during major sporting activities at the weekend. ® Complete Register Trial coverage

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