For Immediate Release
November 13, 1997

For more information, contact:
Ralph Nader or Robert Weissman, 202-387-8034
or at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, Nov. 13 and 14

Ralph Nader today issued the following statement in response to a November 13 letter from Microsoft Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Robert Herbold:

Microsoft doth protest too much, and too late. Microsoft CEO Bill Gates was invited to this conference months ago, and we have repeatedly urged Microsoft to participate in the conference. We have offered Mr. Gates or other top company representatives the opportunity to participate in panels, or to address the conference solo. Despite our best efforts, Mr. Gates and Microsoft declined the repeated invitations.

It is unfortunate that Microsoft did decline the invitations, because the conference would have been enriched by Microsoft's participation. The issues raised at this conference - how our economy should be structured, how information should be controlled and disseminated - are vital to the health of our democracy. They invite serious discussion. Microsoft has unfortunately turned down the opportunity to engage in any meaningful dialogue at the "Appraising Microsoft" conference - even though Bill Gates made a major point in his book The Road Ahead about the need for a national dialogue about the Information Highway.

Instead, the corporation has, mistakenly, determined that its narrow mercantile interests are best served by denigrating, and inaccurately at that, a genuine effort to facilitate a debate over some of the central issues of our time.

In his letter, Mr. Herbold has urged us "to learn about the industry." We are of course doing more of that today and tomorrow at the conference. Mr. Herbold can rest assured that we do indeed view the "Appraising Microsoft" conference as a first step into a deeper and sustained inquiry into how competitive and innovative and useful are the information technologies.