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Microsoft's Ballmer to defend company in TV spot

SEATTLE, April 27 (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp. (NasdaqNM:MSFT - news) on Thursday said Chief Executive Steve Ballmer will appear in a television commercial, in a move by the software giant to burnish its image just after the government unveils its plans to punish the company for breaking antitrust law.

The 30-second advertisement will kick off on Sunday during prime-time shows on broadcast and cable networks, and is similar to one featuring Gates that ran three weeks ago, shortly after a federal judge ruled Microsoft was an abusive monopoly.

It will air two days after the U.S. Justice Department and 19 states which have sued Microsoft present the judge in the case with their proposed penalty, which is said to advocate breaking the Redmond, Wash.-based company into two entities.

In the advertisement, Ballmer does not mention the antitrust case, but talks instead about the importance of technology to the U.S. economy and Microsoft's plans to improve its products, according to a transcript read by company spokesman Dan Leach.

``Innovation is spreading through our economy, it's creating new jobs, changing our lives and helping children learn,'' Ballmer says.

``We're still focused on innovating, delivering value, and listening to customers,'' Ballmer says of Microsoft. ``Technology is fuelling America's economy; our next generation of software will do even more. The best is yet to come.''

Leach said the commercial was not related to any specific development in the case, and was part of an ongoing campaign by the company to get its message across.

``Given all the news about Microsoft, we feel we want to communicate directly with the American people and customers about the role of technology in today's economy, and Microsoft's commitment to innovating for our customers,'' Leach said.

Microsoft shares, which have been battered by its legal woes and concerns over its business outlook, rebounded on Thursday, rising 1-13/16 to 69-13/16 on the Nasdaq.


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