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Ballmer: no contingency plans for break up of MS

A year on, he still hasn't noticed the court order, apparently...

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After a long layoff, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is once again telling people that the company has no contingency plan to cover the possibility of it losing the antitrust case. This time he made the shock revelation in an interview with the Washington Post, erroneously adding that the lack of such a plan didn't suggest the company was speculating about the outcome of the case.

Au contraire, Stevie - you clearly haven't been paying attention. Around about a year ago Ballmer was telling all and sundry pretty much the same thing. Unwisely, one of the people he said this to was Jim Lehrer of PBS*, who first of all drew Ballmer into agreeing that Microsoft would do damn all about planning to implement Judge Jackson's remedies until all appeals processes had been exhausted, and then pounced:

"But what's the reasoning between not going ahead and at least beginning to work on the outline? Because you are under a court order - it can be stayed and it can be reversed on appeal, but you're under a court order to break the company into two, and for you all to come up with a plan for doing so. But you're not going to work on that now?" That is, by not having done anything in the way of planning for a breakup, Microsoft was (and still is) breaking Jackson's order.

That could turn out to be extremely awkward and costly for the company if the appeal did not overturn Jackson's verdict, and unless Ballmer and his execs are appallingly reckless, they must clearly be anticipating that the appeals court will throw the breakup out. So Steve, you are second-guessing the outcome. ®

* Full text of Lehrer interview

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