Microsoft Extends Olive Branch to SPA

Although Microsoft Corp. is a member of the Software Publishers Association (SPA, Washington, <A HREF="http://www.spa.org/">www.spa.org</A>), the company and the group haven't exactly been buddy-buddy lately. Late last month, however, Microsoft tried to patch up the relationship by sponsoring the annual SPA conference in Chicago.

Although Microsoft Corp. is a member of the Software Publishers Association (SPA, Washington, www.spa.org), the company and the group haven't exactly been buddy-buddy lately. Late last month, however, Microsoft tried to patch up the relationship by sponsoring the annual SPA conference in Chicago.

Back in June, the SPA, an industry advocacy group with 1,200 members, including Microsoft Corp., issued a report outlining what it sees as Microsoft’s efforts to dominate the server market as it has the desktop. The report asked the Department of Justice to expand its anti-trust inquiry to include Windows NT as soon as possible.

The report acknowledged that Microsoft does not have a monopoly in the server market, but it points out that Microsoft has publicly announced plans to make Windows NT the successor to Windows 98. As a result, the report predicted that Microsoft’s monopoly on the desktop will be extended to the server OS market.

In response, Microsoft publicly issued a letter written to SPA president Ken Wasch by executive vice president and chief operating officer Robert Herbold, which accuses the SPA of allowing the report to be "prepared by our most aggressive competitors," including Novell Corp., Netscape Communications Corp., IBM Corp., Oracle Corp. and Sybase Corp.

Three months later at the SPA conference, Tod Nielsen, Microsoft's general manager of developer relations and platform marketing, delivered a keynote address at the conference, entitled "State of the Software Industry: Myths and Facts."

"Our membership in the SPA is an important avenue into working with leading software vendors to promote the health of the industry, provide education on key issues that impact the industry, and ensure a constant stream of exciting, innovative computing applications and solutions for business and consumer markets," Nielsen said.

In response to Microsoft's expressions of good will, the SPA’s Wasch had this to say: "We are happy to have Microsoft as a sponsor of this exciting conference. ... We look forward to working more closely with Microsoft in the coming months to tackle some of these tough issues and ensure a vital and prosperous future."

There is no sign yet of a request by the SPA for the Department of Justice to call off the anti-trust dogs, however.