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SPA denies Microsoft seat again

The company has lost another chance to win representation on the board of the Software Publishers Association.

Microsoft has lost another chance to win representation on the board of Software Publishers Association, an influential trade group that recently has taken a number of positions against the software giant.

News of the failed bid--confirmed by the SPA--comes on the same weekend that talks between Microsoft and antitrust regulators collapsed, clearing the way for possible legal action as early as tomorrow. The SPA has been instrumental in encouraging regulators to take action against Microsoft.

Along with IBM, Microsoft is the SPA's biggest dues payer, shelling out $100,000 per year for its membership, according to the software group. But for the second time since last month, and probably the last time for this year, the software giant has been unable to get vice president and chief operating officer Bob Herbold elected or nominated to a seat on the SPA's board.

The board consists of 15 director seats: 12 that are elected to two-year terms by the SPA's 1,200 members, two that are appointed by the board, and one reserved for its president, Ken Wasch.

In April, Herbold lost in an election for one of six seats that were open this year. Following the ballot results, Microsoft said it hoped the board would appoint Herbold to one of the two remaining seats when it met May 15.

But instead, the board appointed Oracle vice president and general counsel Dan Cooperman and Internet Shopping Network president and chief executive Kirk Loevner, according to Wasch.

Microsoft was not immediately available to comment today.

The SPA continues to take stands against Microsoft. Last month, the trade group joined with others in the industry in recruiting former Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole and former appeals judge Robert Bork to lobby against Microsoft.

Also last month, the group wrote a letter to assistant attorney general Joel Klein, head of the Justice Department's antitrust division, complaining about pressure Microsoft allegedly puts on computer makers to control the software and content that PC users first see when they turn on their machines.

And in February, the SPA released a set of "competition principles" that appeared to be aimed at Microsoft. The SPA contends that the document reflected the will of the majority group?s members, and it took the unusual step of allowing Microsoft director of federal affairs Jack Krumholtz to sit in on the drafting sessions for the document.

Microsoft denounced the document, contending that of the 800 SPA members who were sent surveys to approve or disapprove the principles, only a small minority supported them. In addition, the company charged, the language was drafted by the group's government affairs board, made up of executives from Microsoft competitors such as Netscape, Novell, Oracle, Corel, and Sybase.