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Dead people are flocking to Microsoft's Freedom to Innovate banner, and bombarding States attorneys general with letters demanding they lay off the much misunderstood Beast, according to a story in today's Seattle Times. Well, not exactly, but theTimes details how Utah's attorney general got suspicious when two of the people who wrote him turned out to be dead, and many of the letters he was getting seemed to have various phrases in common.

The letters from beyond had apparently been sent to the deceased for signing, and the bereaved relatives had crossed out the name and signed instead. We're not sure which is worse for Microsoft - do you have to be dead to support the company, or do you die immediately after deciding to support them? Or maybe the Forces of Light just strike you down.

The letters themselves were part of a campaign run by Americans for Technology Leadership, an offshoot of the Association for Competitive Technology. ATL ran what purported to be a telephone poll on the Microsoft case, and then sent anyone expressing support for Microsoft letters for signing and stamped envelopes addressed to the relevant attorney general, member of Congress, and President Bush.

This campaign follows an earlier one where identical letters were sent out, but here the letters have been tailored to be 'individual,' so that it really does look a bit like there's a real grass-roots groundswell in favour of sparing Bill and Co the rope. But the letters have some phrases in common, some of the return addresses don't actually exist, and some of them are, well, a dead giveaway.

In campaigns of this sort, the letters are usually identical, so the recipients toss them and carry on as before. Now it seems they'll be looking for key examples of Microspeak in them (Iowa has identified "Strong competition and innovation have been the twin hallmarks of the technology industry" and "If the future is going to be as successful as the recent past, the technology sector must remain free from excess regulation"), then tossing them and carrying on as before. ®

Related link:
Seattle Times report

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