THIS is part of a series of posts. For context, see:
- Wanted: List of Bloggers, Journalists, and Analysts Whom Microsoft Bribed at PDC 2008
- Microsoft Polices Coverage of Vista 7 by ‘Kicking Out’ Disobedient Journalist
- Microsoft is Bribing Bloggers Again… for Vista 7 Raves
- Praise Microsoft, Receive Bribe
Yes, it’s another laptops giveaway bonanza, designed and intended to seed a media blitz which has Vista 7 reviewed under unrealistic conditions, as well as with the expectation that journalists will repay for this $2,000 gift. According to IDG News Service, literally “several dozen of reviewers and analysts” received this schwag from Microsoft. The company gave it away under the disguise which is “loan” (no obligation to return it). It has been called “permanently loaned” in some places.
First in our series we have Tim Anderson, who has been writing in many publications, including The Register.
His review of Vista 7 does mention somewhere along the way that he is among those ‘VIP‘ laptop holders.
A day spent with a Windows 7 preview build – Milestone 3, running on a laptop loaned for the purpose (Dell XPS M1330, Core 2 Duo 2.3Ghz, with 3GB RAM) tends to confirm that view. Windows 7 feels more polished than Vista, even in the preview, and performance is good.
Positive review. What else would you expect from a bribed reporter?
A freelance journalist since 1992, Tim Anderson specializes in programming and internet development topics. He has columns in Personal Computer World and IT Week, and also contributes regularly to The Register. He writes from time to time for other periodicals including Developer Network Journal Online, and Hardcopy.
It was also spread around quite a bit, so Microsoft gets a lot of good publicity in exchange for that almost-negligible $2000 expenditure (not to mention future coverage too).
Vista 7 was preinstalled on a powerful machine and optimised for performance. It’s the same old story.
Tim has gone a little further already. Here he is writing in his personal Web site:
Here at PDC in Los Angeles, Microsoft’s Chief Architect Ray Ozzie and Windows VP Steven Sinofsky are introducing Windows 7. A couple of days ago, journalists were loaned Windows 7 laptops to try and I’ve been using this over the last day or so.
This also appears here, so the ‘story’ quickly finds legs. Other people haven’t the opportunity to contradict Tim or saturate the Web with information because Vista 7 is a super limited edition, handed out selectively only to ‘obedient’ reviewers.
There were other problems, but those two took the wind out of Vista’s sails very early on, and were the major cause of the perceived performance problems. So a “Vista Test” should check an OS against marginal hardware and to pass, the OS would have to perform well. But you played with it a little bit on a laptop “loaned for the purpose”. FAIL
Based on the announcements on Windows 7 and the reviews I thought too that they had improved the performance of Windows 7 vs. Vista. Then I found an article by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols that might explain the “glowing” reviews at Microsoft’s PDC. It seems that Microsoft may have permanently “loaned” $2,000 laptops with 2.4GHz Intel dual cores + 3GB ram to the “reviewers” to review Windows 7. If so, that’s not the first time they tried that stunt (Vista was the first that I recall). So in the answer to the question, “Can a leopard change its spots?” if the above is correct then the answer in Microsoft’s case seems to be “No.”
Here’s the url:
Tim received a $2000 gift from Microsoft. Expect him to write nice things about Microsoft in the future. He sold out. █
“I’ve been thinking long and hard about this, and the only conclusion I can come to is that this is ethically indistinguishable from bribery. Even if no quid-pro-quo is formally required, the gift creates a social obligation of reciprocity. This is best explained in Cialdini’s book Influence (a summary is here). The blogger will feel some obligation to return the favor to Microsoft.”