Microsoft Corp. plans a media strategy that includes opinion pieces and letters to the editor that appear to be local testimonials but are written by the software giant's publicity machine, the Los Angeles Times reported today.

The barrage is intended to soften Microsoft's image, which has been battered by an antitrust suit by the Justice Department and investigations by a dozen state attorneys general, the newspaper said, citing confidential doc-u-ments."They're trying to plant stories about how wonderful it is to do business with Microsoft," one unidentified source told the Times.

Microsoft spokesman Greg Shaw said a media plan exists but was "not something we are moving on."