Microsoft rallies in wake of judge’s monopoly verdict

REDMOND, WA: Microsoft’s damage control crew sprang decisively into action last week following U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield’s ’finding of fact’ that the company is a monopoly.

REDMOND, WA: Microsoft’s damage control crew sprang decisively into action last week following U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield’s ’finding of fact’ that the company is a monopoly.

REDMOND, WA: Microsoft’s damage control crew sprang decisively into

action last week following U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield’s

’finding of fact’ that the company is a monopoly.



Many onlookers believed that the ruling, which held that Microsoft has

harmed consumers by stifling competition, would once again leave the

company’s PR minions with the task of preserving a tarnished image. Yet

it is unlikely that the judge’s finding truly had anyone on Microsoft’s

PR team quaking in their boots.



Though PRWeek was unable to reach anyone from Microsoft’s corporate PR

staff or its agency of record, Waggener Edstrom, the company’s quick

post-decision response points to a well-thought-out contingency

plan.



Within hours of Penfield’s ruling, Microsoft issued a VNR with a

response from Bill Gates, who seemed to hint at the possibility of a

settlement.



Also, Gates hosted a press conference from the software behemoth’s

Redmond campus, discussing the company’s future plans and response to

the announcement.



Throughout both the release and the press conference, the message was

consistent: ’innovation is good.’ Maintaining the freedom to innovate,

Gates suggested, was the company’s key goal, no matter what happened

regarding a settlement or further findings. Microsoft COO and EVP Bob

Herhold reiterated these same messages (in almost comical redundancy)

during an interview with PBS’s Charlie Rose over the following

weekend.



Even if Microsoft’s PR team denies any direct connection, it seems

fairly obvious that its recent lobbying and media relations efforts were

preemptive strikes in anticipation of a harsh ruling. In September, for

instance, Microsoft invited an envoy of key academics and

representatives from Washington non-profit groups on a free trip to

Redmond to show off Microsoft technology and discuss policy issues.



Similarly, the strategy of positioning Bill Gates as a ’regular Joe’

appears to have succeeded. On the Monday night after the ruling, 60

Minutes II aired an extremely sympathetic pre-taped interview with Gates

that showed him twirling his wife on the dance floor on his wedding

night, munching on cheeseburgers at McDonald’s and playing with his

children.



In the end, it remains to be seen what Microsoft’s PR troops will do to

beat back the encroaching forces of the inevitable bad news to come.



Today, though, the fast and early footwork seems to be paying off.



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.