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Microsoft spins in ad campaign

The software giant launches a national print advertising effort amid ongoing antitrust probes by federal and state regulators.

Microsoft (MSFT) is launching a national print advertising campaign to win the hearts and minds of the American public in the midst of its antitrust investigation by the Justice Department and numerous states.

It is buying the ads "to refocus the current debate over competition onto the central principle that the company is standing up for--the ability of every American company to continually innovate by integrating new technologies and ideas into its products," the company said in a statement.

"We believe the marketplace should determine what innovations consumers want," the text of the ads reads. "At Microsoft, the freedom to innovate for our customers is more than just a goal; it is a principle worth standing up for."

The ads ran today in the Washington Post, Washington Times, New York Times, and Seattle Times.


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The software giant appears to be turning to the court of public opinion after repeatedly clashing with judges in courts and elected officials in Congress. At one point, Microsoft even apologized for its heavy-handed approach and promised to respect regulators' authority. The print campaign may mean that company executives and attorneys are ready to repair their public image while pursuing a rigorous defense in the court of law.

"We want to begin a discussion with the American public and PC users in particular about the principle we are fighting for," noted Microsoft chief operating officer Bob Herbold. "Some of our competitors have been working to hobble competition."

Redmond rivals such as Netscape Communications and Sun Microsystems have charged publicly and before members of Congress that Microsoft unfairly wields clout in the market. Many consumers say they are concerned about Microsoft's business practices as well.

Both the states and the DOJ are investigating Microsoft for alleged antitrust practices. Microsoft denies any wrongdoing.