Microsoft has unveiled today Microsoft Democracy, a freeware that will be widely available from next month, and included in Windows 96, the Company's latest operating system, to be released later this year.

Microsoft Democracy will enable any Windows-based computer user to vote from his home, for any election, including presidential. For new Windows users, Microsoft Democracy will come installed automatically with Windows 96, without any human intervention needed. The system will use the Microsoft Network to connect to governmental databases in order to register these new on-line votes. Users will simply have to click on the icon of the candidate of their choice on the day of the election, and voting procedure will be fully automatic.

Detractors say it is not fair that the system only includes Bill Gates's own icon on startup, but even though the Company wouldn't comment officially, sources close to Microsoft say that it should be possible to vote for candidates other than Bill Gates with to-be-released upgrades. These upgrades should include all the candidates for a given election, and should be available at least a week before each election, for as low as $99.99 (again, voting with just the initial version will be possible anytime). In these upgrades, candidate names of more than five characters will also be possible, sources say.

Opponents also complain that installation with Windows 96 is invisible, and that some users may not be aware that MS Democracy has been installed, and is running in their computer. To that, Microsoft opposes that installation is automatic by default, in order to simplify human interventions; automatic operation is clearly explained in the MS Democracy User's Manual, available on-line through MSN, or on the Internet. Also, the user can turn off default voting, just by clicking the `Don't always vote for default candidate' box, in the `Custom Installation / Other Settings / MS Democracy / Advanced Options' sub-menu during Windows 96 installation.

Every voter using the system for the first time will receive a free CD-ROM biography of Bill Gates (MS Dangerous Creatures).

The company expects to distribute 150 million copies of the basic software, and about 500 upgrades within the first year.

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Last modified: 19.12.00

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