MACWORLD EXCLUSIVE: Microsoft, Government at Odds Over Windows Seizure

(Macworld Wire Services) REDMOND, Wash. -- Protestors continued to clash with police in this sleepy Seattle suburb after a daring predawn raid in which armed federal agents stormed Microsoft headquarters and seized the source code for the Windows operating system.

The raid, ordered by Attorney General Janet Reno, came after months of contentious negotiations between the government and the software giant over antitrust allegations against Microsoft.

"We had tried to negotiate with the Microsoft family in good faith," Reno told reporters in Washington. "But their intransigent stand and refusal to propose a fair settlement left us with no choice but to act swiftly."

More than 150 armed federal agents descended upon Microsoft after first firing canisters of tear gas to disperse the crowd of denim-clad employees, Starbucks clerks and local grunge rockers who had formed a human chain around the Redmond campus. After securing the building, the agents found the Windows source code hiding in a closet, where an emotional Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was clutching it to his chest.

The Windows source code was immediately flown to Washington, where it was reunited with Juan Miguel Gonzalez.

"At last, I have been reunited with my beloved Windows source code," Gonzalez said through an interpreter. "At last, we have closure in this long dispute."

But the dispute appears far from over. An angry Bill Gates tearfully denounced a photograph depicting a joyous reunion between the Windows source code and Gonzalez, with Gates charging that the photo had been doctored.

"Look at the interface in the photo," said Gates, Microsoft's founder and chief technology officer. "It clearly doesn't have the robust features offered in Windows 2000. The Windows in that photo looks to me like version 3.1."

Some reporters noted that the interface looked more like the GUI of an early Mac. "Whatever," Gates said, as he vanished through a secret trap door.

Reno said she had no regrets about the raid.

"Hey, it's not like we burned the place down," she said. "Though we very well could have."

Reno's press conference then ended suddenly, as gun-toting federal agents surrounded the assembled reporters.

"I'm tired of all your 'How's the weather up there?' cracks," Reno said, before vanishing through a secret trap door.

Meanwhile, in Havana, Cuban officials celebrated the news that the Windows source code would soon return to their island nation.

"Viva Windows! Viva la revolucion! " said Cuban President Fidel Castro. "Now we have an operating system as elegant and efficient as our system of government."

Macworld's PHILIP MICHAELS ( pmichaels@macworld.com contributed to this phony report.

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