April 23, 1998 5:40 PM PDT

Book to dish Microsoft dirt

A purported insider's book about Microsoft, written by the daughter of a PR guru for the software giant, will hit bookstores next month, according to publisher Henry Holt and Company.

Dubbed Barbarians Led by Bill Gates: Microsoft from the Inside, the book claims to offer the "real facts behind the headlines" of Microsoft. It is written by Jennifer Edstrom, who is the daughter of Pam Edstrom, a public relations executive who has represented Microsoft; and Marlin Eller, whom the publisher says is one of the lead developers on the original Windows software.

It is the latest example of a high-tech insider's book, a highly specialized genre that is becoming more popular as the industry grows. Another example: Ousted Apple chief executive Gil Amelio's On the Firing Line: My 500 Days at Apple.

For Microsoft, Barbarians Led by Bill Gates comes amid an ongoing antitrust investigation launched by federal and state regulators.

"I watched my mother create the Bill Gates myth in the early '80s, and I've watched her spin the Microsoft image ever since," Jennifer Edstrom said in a statement. "But Marlin and I have gotten to the people who actually designed the software and wrote the code...and they have quite a different story to tell."

Some topics the book promises to explore: "How interrelated--or unrelated--are Windows 95 and Internet Explorer?", and How did Microsoft "miss the Internet boat, letting Netscape capture the lead in Web browsers, then bounce back to nearly sink their burgeoning competitor?"

The book's publisher says the story of "life inside the belly of the beast would be more like a "Dilbert" cartoon if it weren't for the very serious reality of Gates's persistent and uncanny ability to come from behind to crush whoever's on top."

"We haven't seen the book, so we really can't comment," said Marianne Allison, executive vice president of Waggener Edstrom, one of the PR firms that represents Microsoft. "There are a lot of books about Microsoft, past, present, and future."


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