Although Gates does not speak in the ad about US District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's ruling last Monday that said Microsoft violated state and federal antitrust laws, analysts said the ad seemed to be an attempt to win over public and political support for the company.
Gates extolls the virtues of Microsoft in the 30-second spot from the Microsoft campus. Wearing a sweater and sitting in a Microsoft office, Gates speaks over the strains of guitar music.
"Twenty-five years ago, my friends and I started with nothing but an idea -- that we could harness the power of the PC to improve people's lives," Gates said. "Since then, it's become a tool that has transformed our economy and had a profound effect on how we live and how our children learn.
"Now our goal at Microsoft is to create the next generation of software, to keep innovating and improving what we can do for you," Gates said. "The best is yet to come."
The ads began airing last Thursday night in the US on major television networks and cable outlets, Dan Leach, a Microsoft spokesman, said.
The ad was broadcast to refocus public attention on Microsoft products rather than to alter public perception of Microsoft, Leach said. He could not provide details about how much the ad cost or when it was produced.
"Given all the news (about the antitrust ruling) in the last week, we just thought it would be a good time for the public to hear from Bill Gates about Microsoft's view of the future of technology and our commitment to innovation," Leach said.
However, several analysts said Microsoft is trying to gain support as the judge gets set to weigh remedies to be taken against Microsoft. Hearings on remedies begin May 24.
"It's a situation where Microsoft believes it can achieve some of its goals by influencing public opinion," said Chris Le Tocq, research director of Gartner Group Inc., in San Jose, California.
Another public relations aim of Microsoft is to influence national lawmakers, said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with the Gartner Group. "Microsoft has learned the importance of having friends in high places," he said.