The years-long war of rhetoric between the software industry's leading rivals ratcheted up another rung late Tuesday after Oracle admitted it had hired a detective agency to investigate Microsoft's allies. In a prepared statement, Oracle acknowledged that it had hired the detective agency of Investigative Group International as part of a year-long effort to surface the relationship between Microsoft and lobbying and trade groups supporting the software giant during its antitrust fight with the government.
However, Microsoft seized upon the disclosure as "dramatic proof" that the company's competitors had played a pivotal role in pressuring, if not orchestrating the government's antitrust lawsuit.
"It's a sad day and an embarrassment for Oracle and all of its employees," said Microsoft spokesman Mark Murray. "I think Oracle has lost a lot of credibility today."
Murray declined to say what steps Microsoft might take following Oracle's admission.
"Obviously, this is an event that continues to unfold and so we're going to consider all of our options and be reviewing the situation very intensely," he said.
"This is dramatic proof that Microsoft's competitors have been funding and orchestrating a massive PR and lobbying campaign against Microsoft in an effort to unfairly tarnish the company's image and generate government intervention in a competitive and healthy industry."
The connection between IGI and Oracle was first carried by the Wall Street Journal, which also reported that Oracle had hired the Washington public relations firm of Chlopak, Leonard, Schechter & Associates, to offer damaging information about Microsoft's allies to media outlets.
A spokesman for Oracle was not immediately available for comment.
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