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Microsoft has released carefully-edited highlights from CEO Steve Ballmer's 8 February deposition by lawyers for the non-settling states on a video clip for all to appreciate.

MS wants these bits seen so badly that they're offering it in both Win Media and Real Player formats. Those accustomed to Ballmer's teased-gorilla-on-amphetamines style of delivery will be shocked to see a beaten little bald man with hollow eyes bravely fighting back the tears as he grieves for his beloved Windows.

The proposed settlement with DoJ, in which MS gets to decide its own punishment, "goes well beyond the Court of Appeals' findings of problems," Ballmer insists.

It "addresses all of the key issues raised by the Court of Appeals," he says in a soft voice, "and while certainly not a painless, but quite a difficult settlement and quite a compromise from us in many ways, I think represents ... a very reasonable way for both of us to try to, to move forward."

'Following this tragedy,' one almost wants to add for him.

He maintains this quietly-agonized disposition even while indulging in pure fantasy, as he does contemplating the "thousands to millions" of Windows versions the dissenting states would force the company to develop.

There will be no return on investment from any of these millions of versions, since only a few hundred people will be using any one them, we're expected to believe.

"If you have these thousands to millions of additional versions, the consumer has no idea what Version 3684 is going to do versus Version 2249, and one of the key reasons why Windows has value to end users today is they know that if they get a version of Windows, [it] has a certain kind of a user interface, they can ask their friends for help, it runs a certain set of applications, it has a certain set of hardware devices that it supports, and [the states' demand] takes away all of that value to the consumer."

Of course the states are asking for a modular version of Windows which users could trick out with whatever features and applications they please, like a Linux distribution. But MS has been so persistent in floating this fantastic nonsense about 'millions' of versions that the states have been forced to explain the obvious.

Ballmer likes to "tell our engineers to work hard every day on the R&D, the brilliant ideas, the intellectual property, the quality, the security, that are going to differentiate Windows from Linux, and to justify its positive price."

Ah, yes; the quality, the security. The e-mail worms, the malicious Javascript, the closed APIs, the product activation, the licensing extortion. All those wonderful things are in jeopardy if the holdout states have their way.

"You'll have said to me, 'it doesn't matter how hard you work, Microsoft. You're just going to give it away.'"

Or does he mean, 'it doesn't matter how hard you work, Microsoft. You're just going to have to accept competition, like everyone else?'

Good parts

Now, if we want to see a nervous Ballmer wincing and twitching as if electrodes were attached to his privy member and activated at random intervals, we may consult the part of the clip which ZDNet is streaming. In this one Ballmer has a memory about as bad as Ronald Reagan's, and a hopeless time figuring out what Windows-CE is and does. "I don't know," "I'm not an expert," "I can't recall," are the phrases of note here.

The lawyer is trying to establish that WINCE is a fine example of an already modular Windows. Ballmer is of course not about to be led down that path, and drags his feet to a comic extent. ®

Related Links

Ballmer's edited performance
The bits MS left out

Website security in corporate America

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