WASHINGTON -- Fresh from its latest courtroom fight with the Justice Department, Microsoft resumed a newspaper advertising campaign Wednesday asserting its right to improve the Windows operating system by integrating new features.
The five-paragraph essay, the second in a series that Microsoft plans, was published in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post and newspapers on Capitol Hill and Seattle, near Microsoft's headquarters. The computer software company warned that government restrictions "will not only affect the thousands of companies that make this industry so successful, but it will also affect millions of consumers and, eventually, the economy in general."
"These new tools in our operating systems allow people to do more and spark wave after wave of innovation," the advertisements said. "Giving customers what they ask for -- isn't that the way the free market is supposed to work?"
Previous Microsoft advertisements weren't published in the Capitol Hill newspapers.
"We're trying to make sure people understand how strongly we believe in this core issue," said Microsoft Chief Operating Officer Bob Herbold. "It happens to be a principle this country was built on. ... I can't imagine a more important group to remember that than the folks within the Beltway."
A federal appeals court in Washington questioned Microsoft and the Justice Department on Tuesday, when the company asked the court to allow it to force computer makers who sell Windows 95 from also selling its Internet browser. A judge had banned the practice under a Dec. 11, 1997, preliminary injunction and agreed that Microsoft was illegally "tying" its browser to its dominant Windows 95 operating system. Microsoft contends the browser is integrated, which is legal.
A browser is a type of software that allows people to view different World Wide Web sites.
The president of the Software Publishers Association, Ken Wasch, said Microsoft's ad campaign misses the point by focusing on the freedom to innovate. The SPA is among members of the newly formed Project to Promote Competition and Innovation, which also includes some of Microsoft's biggest competitors.
"If that were the issue, ProComp would disband, the Justice Department would cease its investigation, and the news media would return to writing about Monica Lewinsky," Wasch said. "Microsoft seems to employ the Henry Ford view of consumer choice -- "you can have any color, as long as it is black." In Microsoft's world, customers can buy whatever they want, as long as it is from Microsoft."