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My Response To Microsoft Re: MSfreePC

This week, I thought I'd update all of you on the developments regarding MSfreePC. For those who don't know what it is, here's a helpful multimedia presentation which describes how eligible consumers can file a Microsoft anti-trust settlement claim and get StarOffice and products for free. Late Friday, we received a "take down" notice from Microsoft which you can read here. This morning I sent our response to Mr. Gates. You can read it below.

Next week, we'll get back to some new product news including LindowsEspañol. For all you Spanish speakers, you can advance order copies here for just $49.95. Olé!

Dear Mr. Gates,

I received the letter concerning and I am disappointed that you cannot see how MSfreePC honors both the spirit and the letter of the anti-trust settlement agreement. Consumers should benefit as a result of Microsoft's poor behavior and MSfreePC uses modern technology to make that happen rather than forcing customers to send in paper forms via snail mail multiple times.

I am surprised at some of your objections, specifically your protests that digital signatures are not valid. You seem to have no objections when digital signatures are used to attempt to build Microsoft's profits such as with MSN, Expedia, or .Net. Perhaps it would be more palatable if everyone using MSfreePC also got a Passport account? I would also point out that Microsoft uses digital signatures to bind people to their restrictive end-user licensing agreements. It is hypocritical for Microsoft to endorse digital transactions to bolster your business, but resist them whenever it may cost Microsoft some money.

It's also shameful that such a wealthy company uses public schools as a smokescreen to hide your true motivations which is to reduce the dollars Microsoft must payout. As you are surely aware, Microsoft benefits greatly if consumers do not submit claims or drop-out anywhere in the laborious, multistep, offline process. One-third of all unclaimed dollars are refunded back to Microsoft. One-third of unclaimed dollars are required by schools to be spent on software which, given Microsoft's enormous market share, means most of those dollars will simply circle back to Microsoft. The remaining one-third can be spent on hardware which even then will likely come with Microsoft software further reducing the dollars Microsoft will be paying out. If you have genuine concern for California schools, then why not give 100% of unclaimed monies to schools in cash for even non-technology needs of which there are many? This would clearly demonstrate that the settlement is not designed to minimize the amount of money Microsoft must pay.

It's undeniable that Microsoft's actual settlement amount will be dramatically less than the $1.1B amount trumpeted in the headlines - the complexity of the manual settlement claim process and the above favorable terms will ensure that. The $1.1B number is purely a publicity stunt and should not be used as a reference point for any part of this process. Clearly it's in Microsoft's self-interest to discourage claims and it's disappointing to see a technology advocate become so technology adverse and resist even the slightest attempts to help consumers claim a portion of the settlement agreement.

The MSfreePC service gives harmed consumers immediate value and access to the solid StarOffice suite (which saves Microsoft Windows and Linux users hundreds of dollars by allowing them to replace Microsoft Office) and LindowsOS, your competition for the PC desktop. We will continue to offer the MSfreePC service and in fact those who are eligible will receive immediate notification and be the first to download the incredible new StarOffice 7.0 coming out shortly.

Our plan is to continue to offer the MSfreePC service in spite of Microsoft threats. If required, we will be a voice in the courtroom defending a consumer's rights to use technology and an online process to secure their settlement claims. I believe you refer to this as the "right to innovate."


Michael Robertson
CEO Inc.

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