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Microsoft goes on the offensive

Microsoft revises its Web site--including the Windows Update page--to solicit feedback on the Justice Department's antitrust case, in an apparent effort to help sway opinion in its direction.

Microsoft has revised its Web site--including its Windows Update page--to encourage public feedback on the Justice Department's antitrust case, in an apparent effort to help sway opinion in its direction.

Microsoft added a "speak up" link to its "freedom to innovate" Web page this week, according to spokesman Jim Cullinan. Links to the page have been sprinkled throughout the site, most notably on the Windows Update page.

The link Microsoft's day in court wasn't there when U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson saw the Windows Update page during last week's trial proceedings, Cullinan acknowledged, and government lawyers have already complained about the move. But Microsoft denied any wrongdoing.

"It's kind of interesting that the government would be against having customer feedback about this issue," Cullinan said.

The page is at issue because Microsoft argues the update service is a piece of the operating system that relies on using its Internet Explorer Web browser.

The DOJ and 19 states have brought suit against Microsoft, arguing that the software giant abused its monopoly position as the dominant supplier of operating system software.

The "speak up" section is part of a months-old service Microsoft offers to keep abreast of trial news and stay briefed on Microsoft's position. The site is liberally sprinkled with symbols such as American flags and the Capitol Building.

The new service lets a person find senators or Congressional representatives by zip code, then addresses a blank email to them.

The form isn't like the postcards with preprinted messages that the National Rifle Association is famous for distributing to members, Cullinan said. "It can be for or against the position of Microsoft or the government. You're free to give whatever opinion you like," he said.

Cullinan said Microsoft doesn't keep track of how many emails have been sent from the site because of privacy reasons, but that 30,000 or 40,000 people have signed up for the notification service.

"There were a lot of people sending emails saying, 'I'm interested in helping you out. How can I do this?'" Cullinan said.