19 April 2007

Microsoft's Men in Black

"It was like the movie 'Men in Black,'" says Rep. Homan. "Three Microsoft lobbyists, all wearing black suits."

Another lobbyist (unaffiliated with Microsoft) who would speak only "on background" laughed at the "Men in Black" description. "I know those guys," he said. "They even wear sunglasses like in that movie. They are the 'Men in Black' of Florida lobbying, for sure."

A legislative staff employee who would lose his job if he were quoted here by name said, "By the time those lobbyists were done talking, it sounded like ODF (Open Document Format, the free and open format used by OpenOffice.org and other free software) was proprietary and the Microsoft format was the open and free one."

Two other legislative employees (who must also remain anonymous) told Linux.com that the Microsoft lobbyists implied that elected representatives who voted against Microsoft's interests might have a little more trouble raising campaign funds than they would if they helped the IT giant achieve its Florida goals.

Amusing as this might seem, it's pretty serious, if true - and there's no reason to disbelieve it. Moreover, I think it will come back to bite Microsoft. This is not the way a corporation should act - and a further sign that Microsoft is deeply worried.

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