Representatives of Microsoft and a group run by well-known U.S. consumer advocate Ralph Nader have met in Washington to see if the software giant will attend the "Appraising Microsoft and its Global Strategy" conference planned for next month.
Nader, whose Consumer Project on Technology is organising the conference, invited Microsoft chairman and CEO Bill Gates to attend, but he declined. However, the Consumer Project is still interested in securing a senior executive to attend the Nov. 13 and 14 Washington D.C. conference, officials said.
Microsoft did not make any commitment.
"Bill won't do it, but it's plausible to us that Microsoft should be represented at the conference," said James Love, director of the Consumer Project on Technology. "But either way we will go ahead with the conference."
Love said a senior, high level Microsoft official would be preferrable, considering that Sun Microsystems will be represented by its CEO Scott McNealy.
"If they don't send anybody, they're the topic and they're not presenting their view point," Love said. "I know the press is going to be there, and with the others who will be there if Microsoft doesn't attend, it just builds into a crescendo."
Attorney Jack Krumholtz, director of Microsoft's D.C. office, attended today's meeting, according to Love. Microsoft officials had indicated before the meeting that they would have no comment about it afterward.
Prior to themeeting a Microsoft spokesman said the company would not make any statement on the meeting, viewing it as a private meeting between the company and Nader's group.
"They have been hearing a lot from our competitors," said Microsoft spokesman Mark Murray. "They haven't heard so much about the intense competition in the software industry. So we want to present some facts to them today."
Love, however, said Microsoft's attendance at the conference, not the topic of the conference, was the primary subject of discussion today.
Information about the conference, to which Vice President Al Gore also has been invited, can be found on the Internet at http://www.essential.org/appraising/microsoft/.