Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/1999/11/14/al_gore_back_in_hot/

Al Gore back in hot potato (sp?) Microsoft meet

MS opens door to press at last minute

By John Lettice

Posted in Business, 14th November 1999 15:11 GMT

Updated US presidential hopeful Al Gore had backed out of a meeting scheduled with Microsoft staff tomorrow (Monday), but is now reported by US wire services to be back in. The current vice president had been lined up for the meeting prior to the publication of judge Jackson's findings of fact, but this has made the Microsoft campus something of a danger zone for presidential candidates. Gore had said he'd go ahead with the meeting provided Microsoft agreed to make it an open one. Microsoft's policy on meetings with candidates is to have them closed to the press. Obviously this kind of closed forum is going to be tricky for politicians keen to glad-hand the IT business right now, but it would be unreasonable to accuse Microsoft of setting meetings up like this specifically so that its aggrieved staff can beat up the candidates about Freedom to Innovate. But apparently the cancellation of the meeting on Friday was all some kind of mistake. Microsoft has now agreed the press can be there, so Al can come and tell people about the Internet after all. If he gets a chance - quite a few of the relevant press find themselves in Las Vegas for Comdex, where Bill himself is. The difficulties in getting last minute flights out to Seattle plus the last minute nature of the decision may reduce the chances of a media feeding frenzy. But poor old Gore is probably in trouble now anyway. By drawing attention to his Microsoft meet he's now guaranteed that he's going to be asked what he thinks about Microsoft a lot. There's no upside for him in getting involved in the Microsoft antitrust battle at the moment. As the VP he should be backing Janet Reno and the DoJ, but if he backs too hard he'll give his opponents the Freedom to Innovate stick to beat him with. Bill Gates is usually thought of as an apolitical Democrat, but one plausible Microsoft strategy is to stall over antitrust for as long as possible, until George W Bush wins the next election, and then roll back the Reno-Clinton 'government interference.' ®