Brad Smith: United States v. Microsoft: Ten Years Later

Remarks by Brad Smith, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Microsoft
The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University
Cambridge, Mass.
Sept. 13, 2008

PHIL MALONE (Clinical Professor of Law, Harvard Law School): All right, well, as people are trickling in, let’s go ahead and get started in the interest of time.

It’s my great pleasure and real honor this morning to introduce our keynote speaker for the day, the general counsel and senior vice president of Microsoft, Brad Smith.

I first met Brad right after the case settled when we were going before Judge Kollar-Kotelly to try to begin the process of getting approved. He stood up as the new face of Microsoft, a new courtroom face, and really began what was then I think a very different approach and a very different tone by the company in the press issues and other compliance issues here and in Europe, one that’s really focused on being constructive and positive and moving forward and trying to make the best of what is obviously a difficult situation for the company.

At Microsoft oversees not only antitrust and compliance but also intellectual property and all of the other fascinating policy, regulatory issues that a company like Microsoft finds itself in the middle of. He’s obviously been heavily, heavily involved in all of the dealings with the Europeans and the other international Courts, as well as the ongoing efforts with the Justice Department and the States here in the United States.

So, we’re very fortunate to have Brad with us today, and I ask that you welcome him warmly. Brad? (Applause.)

BRAD SMITH: Thank you, Phil, and thanks to all of you. Let me first second what Dave Heiner was saying, and say we are really pleased to be included in this event this weekend. It does give us the opportunity to relive those wonderful memories of the trial. (Laughter.) I will acknowledge that some people have spent the better part of 10 years trying to forget some of those days and some of those images that we saw again on the screen yesterday.

I mean, let’s be honest, using the political discourse of the day, if you’re from Microsoft, there’s no way to put any lipstick on that trial. (Laughter.)

Occasionally at Microsoft people who were involved get together and they reminisce about their own sort of highlight reel from the trial, if you will… and 28 seconds later they go back to work. (Laughter.)

It does remind me of the real story, a real story when the Findings of Fact were issued and the next day we had that document, all 414 paragraphs. And as is often the case in this kind of situation, someone very senior said to someone more junior, take this and go highlight the paragraphs that are helpful for us so we can talk about them.

So, people went away and they came back and they said, well, we’ve highlighted one paragraph. (Laughter.) And the answer was, one paragraph; you’re saying out of 414 you only found one paragraph to highlight? Well, not quite. And the person said, well, that’s good, but what are you saying then? Look, the answer was we found one sentence in one paragraph. (Laughter.) Well, I hope it’s a good sentence, and the answer was, well, it depends. It depends on what? Well, if you read the sentence by itself, it’s good. (Laughter.) But if you read the sentence before it and you read the sentence after it, and then put it in the middle, well, it’s not so good. (Laughter.)

So, we had a lot to address as time went by…

In all seriousness, with Phil here, with some of you new here, while we had our days as adversaries, people who worked for the DOJ, for the states, the economists, the experts, and they were all people who we quickly came to respect. And as we’ve had the opportunity to work more and more over the years, of course some who have continued, you know, there have been people we’ve come to appreciate even more.

It is interesting, I will say, because the trial was 10 years ago. And for some people here, you stopped working on this matter 10 years ago. And yet for others it’s a matter of ongoing daily life to this day, because the Court of Appeals decision was seven years ago, the entry of the judgment was six years ago, and the Court of Appeals decision finding and putting the Massachusetts appeal to rest was five years ago, and it was just literally eight months ago that the European Commission opened an investigation that, among other things, focused on whether it was appropriate to integrate the browser into the operating system. So, the issues have come and gone and in some ways are still here in many different respects.

You can’t necessarily be quite as candid talking about something that is a part of ongoing daily life, but nonetheless I will be as candid as I can as I try and look back from Microsoft’s perspective about a trial that took place 10 years ago, and that continues to have so many important effects today.

You know, if you think back to that trial, there’s a lot of questions I could ask myself. What were the mistakes we made? What were the lessons we learned? How did we change?

I think it’s the third question that I’d like to focus on the most, because I think that’s the real test. Lessons that are learned but not applied, that don’t really lead to any change, are of some academic interest but little practical import. I think the real question for us as we look back is, how did we change and why did we change as a result of this experience. And then more broadly, how did the industry change and how do things even beyond our industry change, in part because of the events that took place in that courtroom?

Certainly for us it was clear that we needed to change, and it was clear from the top of the company that we needed to change. It was clear from the chairman, Bill Gates, and the CEO, Steve Ballmer, and it was clear to me when I was given the opportunity to start this job in 2002 that I not only was being given a job, but I was being given a mandate to drive change, and that was an important part of, in fact, my enthusiasm about moving forward.

We did so with a strong support of the company’s board of directors. It was certainly interesting that one of the things that Judge Kotelly did in her decision in 2002, I think in part because of the issues that were being discussed in the business community in the wake of the Enron debacle, if you will, was to require that our board of directors create a special committee, an antitrust compliance committee that would be filled exclusively by independent directors. So, Dr. Jim Cash, then at the Harvard Business School, who is here with us today, assumed the chairmanship of that committee, a position that he’s held ever since. Yesterday, Ray Gilmartin, who’s now at the Harvard Business School, was part of that committee, was here as well.

So, we really focused on making a series of changes from the top of the company down.

As I look back after six or seven years, to me the changes that we made really fall into three principal categories. The first is that you don’t see us anymore saying we don’t have to do that because we’re not a monopoly, we don’t have to do that because we don’t have a dominant position. Without even trying to debate with myself whether that was a successful or unsuccessful tactic in the trial, it was clear that the industry, the government, the world at large expected us to step forward and assume more responsibility without appearing to quibble, if you will, about whether that kind of responsibility was required by the law itself.

When we got to Brussels and had our case before the European Commission, we simply conceded that we had a dominant position in the desktop operating system market.

And while there sometimes have been debates around the fringes, we’ve typically been prepared to sit down with the DOJ or the states when we’re talking about the Consent Decree and say, look, we actually don’t think that what you’re suggesting is required by the Consent Decree, the final judgment, we don’t think that this particular category of software is covered by this, but let’s figure out what it makes sense to do nonetheless.

And even this year, when we took a number of steps to license communications protocols for new products, we did it for a number of products that many people would say are certainly not a monopoly, perhaps don’t even have a dominant position, products that are becoming popular, like SharePoint and Office Communications Server, but we said let’s just focus on what seems like the right thing to do given the kinds of expectations that people have of us.

So, we really tried to put one set of possible debates, if you will, to the side, and move forward and focus on what it makes sense to do.

The second thing we really focused on starting in 2002 was this approach of just sort of getting out and working it out, of getting out and frankly more than anything else taking the first step of just listening better to what other people had to say, and using that listening and try to understand what people wanted, and build a more relationship-based approach to dealing with a number of these issues.

That started with improving relationships with governments themselves. Even before we had Judge Kotelly’s final decision, I had started to fly around the country, go to Des Moines and go to New York and go to Sacramento and go to other places.

And I think for us an important day was the day that Judge Kotelly’s decision was issued. It was November 1st, 2002. And I remember that morning we got together, as we always did, as I’m sure those of you in the government did, on a day when you knew a decision was going to come out, and you had all your PR scenarios. There’s the scenario if we win, here’s the scenario if we lose, here’s the scenario if it sort of comes out in between, so that we were all ready.

I was there with Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer and Dave Heiner and Mark Murray and others, and Steve turned to me and he said, you know, this isn’t going to come out for another six or seven hours; why don’t you give Tom Miller a call, and tell him that regardless of whether we win or whether we lose, we’re going to want to work with him tomorrow; and I did, and I called Bill Lockyer.

And then after the decision came out, even though we had won, we got on the road again. I’ll always remember in January of 2003 trooping through the snow in Des Moines with Steve Ballmer as we went to see Tom Miller in his office, and I think people thought, what are you doing, people only come here in January if you’re running for president. (Laughter.) But it was a great thing to do.

Steve said to General Miller, look, I can’t promise that we’ll never have a disagreement, but I can promise you that as long as I’m the CEO, it won’t be a disagreement that results from the lack of communication.

I got on the plane with Bill and we went down to California and we were able to have that same conversation with Bill Lockyer.

That has been a touchstone of the approach that we tried to take ever since. It’s not realistic to assume that communication and conversation will eliminate every disagreement, but they can solve a lot of them, and you never want to have a disagreement simply because of poor communication.

By 2003, it was clear that this was something that we needed to do not only with people in government, but with others in our industry. If you look at the list and if you look at the products, and as you know, behind every product there was a company. At that time, behind the browser there was AOL-Time Warner.

So, in 2003, I had the chance to start talking about with Paul Cappuccio, who is and was the General Counsel at Time Warner. And at first we just sort of debated what had happened, and as Paul has mentioned, mostly I listened to what he had to say. And we said, well, let’s see if we can start to get people together. Maybe there is something that we can do here to address the concerns that you all still have. And we did, and it was a big step for us, and by Memorial Day 2003 we were able to settle the private lawsuit that AOL and Time Warner had brought against us, sort of the vestiges of the browser wars.

And then we had a chance to start talking to Sun really about all of the Java issues. And if there was a lack of trust between Microsoft and AOL-Time Warner, I think it’s probably fair to say there was an even bigger lack of trust between Microsoft and Sun.

Actually one of the things that we learned from that experience was that sometimes it’s your differences that divide you, but sometimes it’s also your similarities that separate you. We were both companies that were heavily driven by an engineering culture. Most of the companies in our industry are. It’s one of their great sources of strength. But fundamentally what engineers like to do most is sit down and invent things. Flying around and talking to people and really admiring what the other person is doing rather than praising what they’ve done themselves is not necessarily part of an engineering culture in virtually any engineering-based company.

Part of the problem that we had between Microsoft and Sun was not just that we saw some things differently, but in other respects we were too much alike. Neither of us had spent enough time talking with each other.

So, we had the chance to start to move that forward, so that finally by the beginning of April 2004 we were able to resolve all of those issues.

Then by 2005 we were able to do the same thing with Real Networks and put to rest their issues related to the Media Player.

It hasn’t always worked. We spent an unbelievable amount of time in the first few months of 2004 trying to reach an agreement with the European Commission, and it was only when we actually thought we had, that, in fact, we found that the agreement had slipped through our grasp, if you will, and instead we headed off to court in Europe.

But by and large, I think you could ask any of us at Microsoft, and we would say that we feel that we’re far better off and it’s far more responsible for us as a company to basically spend as much time as do on the road with people in government and with people in our industry trying to find common ground wherever possible, and trying to solve in many cases small problems before they become much larger. So, this focus on getting out and working it out really did become that second part of what we sought to do.

The third conclusion we ultimately came to was one that we started to apply externally in 2006, but was actually one that a number of us inside the company had been discussing for a significant period of time. The basic premise that we started to come to was that in the world as it existed, that it’s really not enough for a company to just tell others what it’s doing; you have to explain why. You have to explain why so people can have the ability to predict what you’re going to do next, especially if they rely on you.

So, what we came to was we said what we have to do is actually put together some principles that we’re prepared to put down on paper and publish and stand behind that will tell people that as far as we can see into the future, and absent any changes, which we would announce in advance, this is what you can expect us to do.

So, as Dave mentioned, in July of 2006, we published the Windows Principles. In a lot of ways they did two things. First, they said even if this judgment expires, we are still going to operate our business in accordance with these principles, many or most of which really are derived from the judgment itself. And we’re going to apply them not only to the categories that are spelled out in the judgment, but we’ll apply them to some other important areas as well. And beyond that, we recognize that the world is continuing to change, so we’ll add to our principles some tenets that are not in the final judgment, but that people are asking us about today, so that you can see and you can test us by whether we live up to these words. Generally I think that was a very positive thing for us to have done; we learned more from doing that.

So, we followed it, and in other instances we actually applied them in the non-antitrust arena in 2007, last year, when we issued privacy principles. And then earlier this year we issued a set of interoperability principles, principles that originate in part from the antitrust experiences that we’ve had, but go far beyond it, and really reflect not only what the law and governments have been pushing us to do, but where the market and where technology is going as well.

I think one of the great things about this experience is that it forces us and it helps us inside the company to get everybody together, and ask ourselves what are the things that we are prepared to say we will do, knowing in advance that we are going to do them.

Before we finished the interoperability principles, Steve Ballmer said he wanted to have a meeting, and we did. He said, “I want all of the engineering vice presidents in the company to get together. We’ve been working on this for two months, everybody has seen it, everybody has had input into it; now I want to know two things: Does anybody have any last minute objections, so I can hear it before I decide; and does everybody understand that once this goes out the door, this is how we’re running our business?”

So, the principles have served an important role inside the company to help foster decision-making, as well as externally in enabling us I think to work more collaboratively with others in the industry.

So, when you add up this focus on stepping forward, getting out, and taking a more principled approach, it has I think enabled us to do business in a different way. Like all things, it has its warts, it has its imperfections, it has its downsides, but on balance it’s an approach that we feel has served us well and served the industry well, and is an approach that we’re certainly very committed to pursuing as we continue to move forward.

At the same time that we’ve been changing, the industry has been changing. Ten years later, it’s a very different industry. That shouldn’t be a surprise. What would be a surprise is if 10 years later the industry were exactly the same. When you look at how dynamic everything is, it would be simply almost bizarre for everything to have remained the same.

But it is interesting to look at some of the changes in our industry, especially in the context of the discussion that we’re having here, and this last panel discussion, which I thought highlighted a number of these things.

The reality, of course, is that the industry has changed for lots of reasons. It’s changed because of advances in technology. It has changed because of market economics. It has changed because of the remedy in the antitrust case.

What is probably most interesting is that a lot of these changes have reinforced each other. I mean, one could have the debate which change was most important. It’s an interesting debate, but ultimately the question is an imponderable. No one can know. And at one level it probably doesn’t even matter. I personally think that a well designed government intervention, whether it’s in the antitrust context or any other, is probably an intervention that reinforces the trends of a healthy market rather than fights against them. But it is interesting I think now to look back and highlight a few of those trend changes that are most significant.

First, I think, much as Ed started to point us towards, the changes in the technology, the changes in the Internet are probably changes that are bigger than anything else. I mean, Bill Gates wrote his memo in 1995, and called it “The Internet Tidal Wave,” and it has been a tidal wave. It would be very difficult for anything, certainly almost impossible for anything, for any single company or any single government to be as strong as the Internet tidal wave has been.

Now, when you think about the issues in the lawsuit 10 years ago, one of the concerns that the government had was that the OEM channel, PC manufacturing channel, was a primary, perhaps the primary vehicle for competitors to use to distribute their software and get them out to consumers; and indeed it was a very important channel of distribution.

It is less important today than it was 10 years ago, precisely because ubiquitous Internet access and increasing broadband distribution have made it so easy to get new software onto consumers’ machines simply by offering them for downloading over the Internet.

When you look the ubiquity not just of applications that people talk about like Facebook, but the software tools that people use, whether it’s Java or Flash or others, Internet distribution has just profoundly changed the equation.

It’s also the case, as Ed was pointing to, that more and more people are writing their applications for the Web, which means that it can be run on any operating system on any computer.

It’s interesting as we sit here today, a number of you have laptops. If you have a laptop in front of you, raise your hand. If your laptop is not running Windows, raise your hand. (Audience chuckles.) It was 10 years ago that Jim Barksdale asked those questions in the hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and everybody raised their hand in response to the first, and no one raised their hand in response to the second. In part the ubiquity of the Web, the nature of the Internet has transformed computing in so many ways, that the role of the operating system is in a somewhat different place today.

But a second change that has been unfolding over the last 10 years, one that hasn’t been talked about so far in the last day and a half, is also important I think, and that’s the changes in the nature of the PC market.

When the trial took place in 1998, there were hundreds of companies selling significant numbers of PCs in the United States, and thousands of companies doing so around the world. Now by and large the PC market has consolidated. You have two companies by themselves account for over half of all the PCs sold in the United States. By the time you get to sort of company number seven or eight, you’ve covered about 80 percent of the PC market.

What does that mean in this context? Well, it means the following: 10 years ago, people were concerned, including people in government, that the suppliers of critical components for PCs, whether it was the operating system or something else, had a superior negotiating position when they sat down with a PC manufacturer. If that was the case when Microsoft was negotiating with hundreds of OEMs, it’s quite a different dynamic today when a company like Microsoft is negotiating with a much, much smaller number, and each of them has such a large market share.

So, that’s the second thing that really has been a significant change in the industry.

A third change that I would point to is the remedy of this case. The remedy has had an impact. I don’t know whether it’s the most important or how to gauge it, but it has clearly had an impact. Think for a moment, if you will, about the slide that Jonathan Zittrain showed us yesterday, the notion that in part what this case was about was ensuring that Microsoft wouldn’t control all of the aspects of the desktop on a new PC, that it would remain open, that PC manufacturers would be able to install and promote, even promote exclusively other categories of software.

The Consent Decree that was put in place had many provisions, all reinforcing each other, that ensured, among other things, that that remained the case. And indeed PC manufacturers have been quite enthusiastic about installing other software on new machines, so much so, as David alluded to earlier, that it actually raises some interesting issues for consumers, but the market I think will have the opportunity to work through that the way the market works through lots of other things as well.

One of the interesting things about the remedy was that it wasn’t designed to address only the issues with respect to the browser. It identified four other areas of so-called middleware as well: messaging software, Media Player, e-mail, the Java Virtual Machine. In each of these categories Microsoft has invested, Microsoft has done well, and so have lots of others. AOL remains the market leader for messaging software in the United States. While Windows Media Player is very broadly distributed, Flash from Adobe is actually the most ubiquitous media player found on the planet. And since a lot of what people care about when they talk about media players is really not even the media player, it’s digital media, the reality is that Apple, more than any other company, has really established a leadership position in that space.

So, if the one goal of the remedy was, as I think it clearly was, to ensure that there would be clear rules and vibrant competition in all of these areas, one can look back a decade later and see that vibrant competition is alive and well. And indeed even in the browsing space I don’t think that Navigator from Netscape ever really died; it just transformed itself into a new product with a new name called Firefox that is gaining market share. And it’s certainly interesting that a decade later there’s a new entrant into that area with Google launching its own browser.

And indeed I think one of the interesting things about the remedy is that while it was confined to five specific areas, the implementation of it, the enforcement of it has not been confined only to those five. People in government have raised with us issues and questions and at times concerns about other categories, the most notable perhaps over the last couple of years being desktop search. And even though it’s nowhere mentioned in the remedy, we did sit down, and as Steve Houck said yesterday, we did make changes in order to address the concerns that people were raising.

I do think that some of that reflects something which some people had remarked upon from time to time, and which I think has at least a certain dose of validity. To some degree, the trial itself was part of the remedy. It was a powerful experience to have to go through, not just for Microsoft but for every company in the country that also watched what Microsoft experienced. It certainly is a sobering reminder I think of the importance of solving the small problems before they get bigger.

Every once in a while we have a new executive who joins Microsoft, and the person has a bright idea, they want to go do something, and somebody says, yeah, oh my gosh, this is going to anger a large part of the industry, there are going to be real questions about whether this is an appropriate thing to do, and the person says, oh, come on, the company I was at this is no big deal, we can go do that, let’s just go fight. And Steve Ballmer sort of says, you weren’t here when we had that trial, were you? (Laughter.)

You have to appreciate how the world thinks about and expects us to act. So, it does have an effect to this day. And with all such things, there are days when one might feel that the effect is positive and days when one might feel that the effect is less so, but I think it would not be credible and certainly would not be candid to stand here and deny that it doesn’t continue to have an effect.

So, the industry, in my view, has changed and has changed for reasons that are unrelated to the case, and it has changed for reasons that are, but the reality is a lot of these changes have reinforced each other, and it has created a very different dynamic a decade later.

Finally, to me some of the most interesting aspects of the trial, looking back after 10 years, really are not related to antitrust law, they’re not related to software or information technology; they are in part a reflection of how the world has changed. The trial itself was in part a reflection of certain aspects of a changing world, and the trial in part contributed to a changing of the world.

Certainly we all live in a world today with far greater transparency than existed 15 years ago. We live in a world today where a higher percentage than ever of what people say and do is recorded in some form. Maybe it’s an instant message, maybe it’s a photo on a Facebook page, maybe it’s a search history in Google or maybe it’s something else. The world started to see more of that transparency in the trial. And if you look at every legal case that has ensued since, every case has had more transparency quite possibly than the cases before.

In a lot of ways I think it really calls upon people to just recognize, certainly if they are in any position of responsibility in any institution of importance, that they do live a public life, and they will be scrutinized in accordance with the expectations that people have of them. So, if you’re going to choose that life, you should choose to live it well, because if you don’t, there will come a day when you will regret it. That is a difference I think about our society compared to 15 or 20 years ago.

A second aspect of the trial that I have always found somewhat particularly fascinating was the role of the media. And if you think about that this trial in 1998, it was unfolding at a time when the pace of media coverage was accelerating, and the media itself was fragmenting. We saw both of those phenomena playing themselves out, and in many ways both of them have continued and even gained more momentum in the years since.

We’ll all remember I think the immediate news coverage that was resulting, in part because cable news channels had air time for the middle of the day, and in part because Internet news services wanted to push out news immediately.

So, one no longer had the simple luxury, if you can think of it as even a luxury, of waiting until the end of the day to have a longer conversation with journalists before they published what they were seeing; we all had to move faster.

The other thing that was interesting was the fragmentation of the media that was starting to unfold. It wasn’t just the principal daily newspapers, it wasn’t just the principal traditional network news channels; there were the cable channels, there were the CNETs, the new Internet sites that were springing up. And, of course, a decade later the media has fragmented so much more than was the case then, that that too has had quite a substantial effect.

Certainly for us we learned some very important lessons. I think in part we learned that if you want to make your case in a court of law, you’d better figure out how to make it in a court of public opinion at the same time.

If you actually look at a lot of the high profile cases of this decade, they never get to a court of law. If a company cannot make its case in the court of public opinion, it gets the message quickly, and it basically pulls up its tent.

So, I think that in addition to living your life as a public life, you have to get out and be accessible and engage and share more information about what you’re doing and why, so that people at least has that as context when they’re evaluating what they think about you.

The last thing that I think has really changed in the world, certainly something that in some respects we’ve been at the forefront of experiencing, is the enormous forces of globalization, including the globalization of legal and regulatory proceedings.

The IBM case in the ’70s and ’80s was handled by the DOJ, and it was handled by the European Commission. So, in a sense that was a step towards the internationalization of antitrust issues.

But the Microsoft case really went a lot farther as it became a global matter of regulatory review. At its height we had cases in over 20 countries around the world. Some of them were public, some of them were not. Indeed, as we look back a decade later, that process is still not over.

This is an issue that I think the world is going to have to grapple with. One can have differing views about what governments should get involved, and why and how, but it is clear that no matter what your point of view, it’s a real challenge when government after government wants to take up the same issue. It certainly leads to a very lengthy proceeding and requires a large investment of resources that would otherwise be devoted to engineering or marketing or something else. It certainly leads to potential inconsistency, as companies are then asked to do different things in different places.

What is most challenging, in my view, is when governments start to do something that conflict with each other, and especially when multiple governments seek to regulate the world.

I’ve been struck at times sitting with government officials in various parts of the world, and sometimes they say, this is not only what we want you to do for our jurisdiction, this is what we want you to do in the world. You say, well, you know we had this case in the United States, and the U.S. government and the U.S. courts decided what they wanted us to do in the United States, and the answer is, I don’t care. That was then, this is now. You answer to me when you’re in my office. I say, well, that’s good, but tomorrow I’ll be in somebody else’s office; who am I supposed to answer to then?

This is an issue not only for antitrust, it’s an issue for virtually every important field of the law, and it’s just so clear that as the years and decades progress, the world and people in government, in particular, will need to find new and better ways to manage these kinds of issues that so clearly cross borders.

So, when it comes to this greater transparency and broader media focus, and even globalization, the world as a whole is quite a bit different from a decade ago, and in some respects the experience a decade ago provided us a glimpse of where things were going, and in some ways it maybe wasn’t even all bad for us to get that glimpse and have the opportunity to learn some of those lessons when we did.

Now, in conclusion, I think we can all look back at the trial, and everybody naturally inevitably will look at it from their perspective. Everybody went through it from a slightly different position, from a sometimes more than slightly different point of view. For each person you can look back and you can say, you know, the trial meant many things. When I look back at it from Microsoft’s perspective, it did mean many things, but I also think when I try to prioritize it in my own mind, it meant one thing more than any other: It was a part of the maturing of Microsoft.

I will always remember a conversation I had in Redmond with one of our senior executives when the trial was starting, and he said, you know, I don’t understand why the government is suing us; we’re just this little company in this remote corner of the country. (Audience chuckles.) You realize that perception takes time to catch up with reality, and in the same way self perception or self awareness takes time to catch up with reality.

In 1998 people in Microsoft still thought of themselves as working at a little company in a remote corner of the country. But the world was no longer looking at or thinking about Microsoft in that way. We were an important company creating an important product that was affecting the rest of the industry, and touching the lives of consumers around the world. Part of our maturation really required that we start to see ourselves the way other people had already begun to see us. It was not necessarily an easy thing to do. I think it seldom is when you have to go through that kind of process.

It has made us more mature. Even when you’re more mature, you’re not perfect, and we certainly are not a decade later, but I do think that we are 10 years older, and I’d like to think we’re at least 10 years wiser as well.

So, thank you very much. (Applause.)

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