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Tim Anderson Received Bribe for Vista 7 Review

Posted in Microsoft, Vista 7, Windows at 8:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Kid with laptop

THIS is part of a series of posts. For context, see:

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?

Who is Tim Anderson?

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.

From the comments in The Register:

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

From Slashdot:

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.”

Former Microsoft manager

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  1. DOUGman said,

    November 9, 2008 at 8:43 pm



    I obtained a copy of “Vista 7 Ultimate” build 6801, installed it in vmware and activated it. After some clicking around and general review, I basically labeled it Vista SP2, Mojave, whatever…etc… No innovation..


  2. Tim Anderson said,

    November 10, 2008 at 2:44 am


    Microsoft loaned journalists attending its Windows 7 briefing with laptops running the OS. They are labelled as Microsoft property. We had a couple of days to file stories on Windows 7 before the expiry of the NDA on Monday and getting the OS pre-installed with working drivers etc for the devices on the laptop made it easier to preview. The loan was not a secret and I mentioned it in everything I wrote about it; you could speculate that it was somehow optimized for Windows 7 but as far as I can tell it is a standard Dell, albeit relatively high-spec. It is of no value to me other than for reviewing Windows 7 and is not used for any other purpose.

    What was unfortunate is that the build of Windows 7 pre-installed was not the same as that shown in the keynote; it was an earlier build that lacked some of the key UI changes. I am not sure what was the reason for this; possibly to avoid leaking the details early; possibly the practicalities of pre-installing; possibly because the new UI was not stable enough – although it was installed on many other machines at PDC and seemed solid enough.

    The practice of loaning hardware for review is commonplace. Loaning hardware for a software review is less common but does happen where there is good reason. It doesn’t influence the review one way or the other; and if you read what I have written over the years you’ll see that I’m not shy about writing negative as well as positive comments about any company and its products. Some of the negatives have even been referenced on this site. Windows 7 does look, at this point, more satisfactory than Vista, whether or not it is running on a loaned machine.


  3. Needs Sunlight said,

    November 10, 2008 at 3:46 am


    Ok. So in addition to all that, MS may have faked the presentation. Are you sure it was running the next version and not a Flash app?

    Anyway, it’s a waste of time to play up MS’ hype about the Next Version. Ubuntu, Xubuntu, Fedora, RHEL are all here *now* today.

  4. G. Michaels said,

    November 10, 2008 at 4:31 am



    I wouldn’t worry about this too much. See:


    Credibility level: Zero, pretty much.

    Note: writer of this comment adds absolutely nothing but stalking and personal attacks against readers, as documented here.

  5. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 10, 2008 at 5:18 am


    The laptops were on “indefinite loan”. Only when Microsoft and the recipients got criticised for it did they claim that a return was really needed. It’s 2006 all over again.

  6. stevetheFLY said,

    November 10, 2008 at 11:37 am


    Just the usual character assasination attempts from Roy here…

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from an incarnation of a known (eet), pseudonymous, forever-nymshifting, abusive Internet troll that posts from open proxies and relays around the world.

  7. dwight said,

    November 19, 2008 at 11:59 am



    I am not a fan of microsoft at all, yet in the early 1990s at university the best GUI word processor on the MAC and PC was MS Word, so I used it. I use Unix at work and Oracle, and ever now and then use Linux at home. My notebook has Vista and I expected the worst, but I must say I have no huge negative issues with it. It works and works a lot better than XP ever did ( I delayed moving from W2K to XP for years – stupidly).

    I am disappointed that fan boys of one or other system/ hardware /software loose objectivity about technology. I dont think MS has been the best system ( I bought OS2 !!! ) and in future will not buy another MS operating system as I run multiple machines at home for development ( isnt Linux great when it comes to license costs ). But I wont buy Windows because of the cost of loading on several machines the OS, not because I have a bias against the company. Yet I cannot say Vista is all the nasty things people claim it is, it works, works nicely and runs all my hardware, including some obscure USB devices I built.

    I prefer Unix personally, but MS runs a lot of software I require for development ( anyone know how to run PL/SQL developer for Oracle, on Unix ) so use MS OS often.

    I fully understand how a prerelease OS is loaded on a machine and loaned for review ( you were not seriously expecting me to run Apples latest OS on anything but an Apple machine were you ? ). Yet this bashing of MS all the time is becoming tedious and rather unprofessional. I’m no MS fan but to accuse each and every thing they do begins to make me wonder as to whether emotions are rulling the blogs, sad state of affairs. If the journalists were loaned/ given the notebooks and declared this fact in the review then I think it is unfair to immediately dismiss their reviews. If they did not declare this in their review then they are unprofessional, but to bash them just because they received machines for review is rather childish.

    Start being professional guys!!

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