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Microsoft Insists It Broke No Laws

By EUN-KYUNG KIM, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Regardless of the recent ruling by a federal judge who found Microsoft in wide violation of antitrust law, the software company has always strived to behave with ``the highest integrity,'' its president says.

``It still matters in business what your values are,'' said Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's president and chief executive officer.

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ruled that Microsoft violated antitrust law by illegally using its monopoly power. The case stems from a lawsuit filed by the Justice Department and 19 states.

But Ballmer said his company did not break the law as accused.

``We remain convinced that we have a very strong set of factual legal arguments,'' he said Tuesday before an audience at George Washington University.

Values are ``super important'' to Microsoft, Ballmer insisted.

``It matters to me that we're a company of fine integrity. It matters to me a lot. It matters to me when I address my kids,'' he said, referring to his two children, including an 8-year-old who is ``old enough to know that Daddy's company is in the paper.''

A May 24 hearing has been set on what penalties should be imposed against Microsoft, which will appeal the ruling.

Ballmer said Jackson suggested in his April 3 verdict that ``he and the D.C. Court of Appeals - he thinks they have different point of views, so we'll have to see what happens as that whole thing plays out.''

Earlier Tuesday, at a technology convention for government workers, Ballmer made only an oblique reference to the antitrust case and its high profile in Washington.

``I suspect there is far more opportunity for those of you in the D.C. area to read about Microsoft than I wish there was recently,'' he quipped.

Ballmer also told his audience that the federal government is one of Microsoft's top clients.

``The U.S. government, overall, is certainly our largest customer in the world,'' he said.

Ballmer's appearance at the trade show came within two hours of a keynote address by Attorney General Janet Reno.

Reno made no reference to the Microsoft case, focusing strictly on how the industry and government can work together better to make information technology more accessible to people with disabilities.

She noted that about 30 million adults with ``significant disabilities'' are out of work or underemployed, even though many of them are ideal for high-tech workers. She said the Justice Department released a report Tuesday that compiled self-evaluations by 81 federal agencies on how accessible their information technology was to the disabled.

Reno said the report offered few surprises but provided a starting point ``to define the status quo.'' She said agencies must make sure their products are accessible to the disabled before buying or leasing them. Most hold off from checking until a request for an accommodation is made.

``This is a bit like waiting until someone who uses a wheelchair needs to enter your building before you look to see if there are steps that would prevent him from entering,'' she said. ``People with disabilities lose out, and we all lose out. Our work is too important to leave anyone behind.''

 

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