Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
Jan. 11 2000 4:58 PM


Microsoft may want to reconsider the placement of an advertisement Chatterbox spied this morning while riding the subway into work. The ad was on the platform for the inbound red-line train at the Judiciary Square station. Dedicated followers of the Microsoft antitrust trial and savvy Washington insiders know this to be the subway stop for the federal courthouse where Microsoft's fate is at this very minute being decided. If the presiding judge in the Microsoft case, Thomas Penfield Jackson, takes the subway to work, this is probably where he gets off in the morning.


It was therefore with some surprise that Chatterbox noticed that Microsoft placed an ad in this spot for Windows 2000. Microsoft is widely suspected to harbor ambitions of world conquest, but it was Chatterbox's impression that the company wished to downplay any such ambitions while Judge Jackson considered whether to break it up into itty-bitty pieces.

What, then, is one to make of this ad? Here is the text (superimposed on a photograph of the American flag snapping in a stiff breeze):

The biggest .com of them all isn't a .com at all.
It's the U.S. government, and it created the Internet.
Imagine what it can do with Windows 2000.

Windows 2000: the government's business starts here.


The ad's intent, obviously, is to invite government managers to consider the benefits of upgrading their computer systems to Windows 2000. One could read the text as an innocent pitch for a nifty product that could help Uncle Sam do his job. But to Chatterbox, the tone seems further to suggest that the federal government is a big software company that would be well advised to merge with another big software company called Microsoft. If it doesn't ... well, who's to say whether those poor saps at the Agriculture Department will ever be able to keep track of the price of pork bellies? The "government's business," after all, "starts here."