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Wednesday, 21 November, 2001, 23:47 GMT
Top Microsoft lawyer quits
Bill Neukom
Mr Neukom's personal fortune is estimated at $600m
Bill Neukom, the man who led Microsoft's long and bitter legal battle against the US government has announced that he will step down in July.


It's time to let Bill hang up his bow-tie and pursue all his other passions

Steve Ballmer
Microsoft chief exec
The 60 year old lawyer has handled Microsoft's stormy legal affairs for 22 years.

The high level of publicity and controversy surrounding Microsoft's antitrust case has thrown Mr Neukom - along with his trademark bow-tie - into the spotlight.

His resignation comes less than a month after Microsoft settled antitrust lawsuits with the US Justice Department, but while it is still battling out a settlement with a handful of states.

Criticised strategy

"I feel good about the progress we've made on a wide range of issues," said Mr Neukom in a statement.

And Microsoft is widely perceived to have come out tops from the legal battle by managing to avoid breaking up its company.


A lot of people thought Bill Neukom laid out a very poor strategy

John Puricelli
AG Edwards
But the lawyer was often criticised for taking an overly aggressive stance during the case.

Critics say that Microsoft did not show enough contrition when it denied almost every accusation against it when the trial began in 1998.

"A lot of people thought Bill Neukom laid out a very poor strategy," said AG Edwards analyst John Puricelli.

Hanging up his bow-tie

Microsoft said that Mr Neukom is leaving to pursue personal interests, although his retirement comes somewhat early.

"Bill is a consummate professional, and he leaves our law department and our company well positioned for the future," said Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer.

"After 22 years, it's time to let Bill hang up his bow-tie and pursue all his other passions, from his family foundation to his many civic duties to his love of baseball and fly-fishing."

Mr Neukom joined Microsoft in 1985 after handling the company's legal affairs as a partner at Preston Gates & Ellis, the law firm led by Bill Gates Junior.

His personal fortune has been estimated at $600m, large enough to win him a listing on Forbes Magazine's list of the richest Americans in 1999.

See also:

21 Nov 01 | Education
Microsoft offers $1bn for schools
20 Nov 01 | Business
Microsoft settles private lawsuits
15 Nov 01 | New Media
Microsoft unleashes Xbox
25 Oct 01 | Sci/Tech
Windows XP hits the streets
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