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11.09.08

Harry McCracken, Technologizer: Bribed by Microsoft

Posted in Microsoft, Vista 7, Windows at 8:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ferrari laptop

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

The previous post explained why Tim Anderson had lost his credibility as a reporter. It’s about that laptop giveaway. Now we can add Harry McCracken to the same bucket. He even included an exclamation point in the headline of his pseudo-review, “Windows 7 First Impressions: Hey, This Looks Pretty Good!”

A few disclosures about the discussion of specific Windows 7 features that follows: So far, I’ve used Windows 7 for only a few hours, and only in preinstalled form on a Dell laptop loaned to me by Microsoft.

[...]

But for what it’s worth, W7 loads quickly and feels pretty darn zippy on the Dell notebook Microsoft loaned me, which is unencumbered by third-party adware and junkware.

He wrote about it some more, so it wasn’t a one-time thing. There are very few people out there who can tell the world about Vista 7 (well, based on hands-on experience) and many of them are bribed.

Harry McCracken received a $2,000 gift from Microsoft. Expect him to publish nice things about Microsoft and/or Windows in the future.

“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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8 Comments

  1. Harry McCracken said,

    November 9, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    Gravatar

    Just a few facts:

    1) I received no “$2000 gift”–as I stated (and you quote), the laptop is a loaner which I will return to Microsoft.

    2) Okay, one of your posts says that the laptop is on permanent loan and therefore indistinguishable from a gift. News to me–I received both verbal and written notification from Microsoft that they expect me to return it. And I will, most likely well before their deadline.

    3) It was of some value for the first 40 hours or so after I received it, when I used it to use Windows 7 and develop some opinions about it. Once I received the code on DVD, I installed it on two machines I own, and haven’t used the loaner since (I may or may not use it further before returning it to Microsoft).

    4) In one of your earlier posts, you discuss a “secret” Microsoft meeting and say that nobody there talked about it or the laptops distributed at it; I disclosed both the meeting and the laptop in my story, so that I had nothing to hide and readers could draw their own conclusions.

    5) Every word I wrote about Windows 7 was my sincere take on it, and the fact that Microsoft loaned me a laptop had no impact; my credibility as a journalist is worth way, way more than $2000 and if I lose it, I lose everything. Even if I was willing to be bribed, it would be a moronic financial decision.

    6) If you Google for me you’ll find that last year I quit a job that paid a -lot- more than $2000 rather than being forced to make decisions about editorial content based on money from a company I covered.

    7) I have about 18 years of public track record of writing about Microsoft, and if you check it out (including stuff I’ve written since the post you quote) you’ll see that I’m hardly a shill for them.

    You’re perfectly entitled to discuss this laptop loaner program and even express opinions on whether it has an impact on coverage of Windows 7; it’s a legitimate topic for discussion, which is one reason why I disclosed I’d accepted the loaner. But your posts would be far more effective if you stuck to the facts.

    –Harry McCracken, editor, Technologizer

  2. G. Michaels said,

    November 10, 2008 at 1:13 am

    Gravatar

    @Harry:

    I wouldn’t worry too much about this, Roy Schestowitz also employs (in his word) shills, nymshifters and munchkins that spew drivel about Microsoft everywhere, insult people and promote his website. So his credibility is right around the zero mark now. This guy:

    http://slashdot.org/~SockDisclosure/journal/214377

    is one of them, currently on loan from Slashdot. If you use Google Site Search for ‘twitter’ you’ll get an idea of how all that works.

    And don’t be surprised if ‘twitter’ makes an appearance to insult you, your dog, family, etc. Apparently that’s his main task around here, partially hidden behind who-knows-how-many identities. A few days ago he was let loose on Alex Brown of ISO as well. Defending yourself from Roy’s libel can be an adventure in itself thanks to his cadre of loopy ninjas :)

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

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 10, 2008 at 5:18 am

    Gravatar

    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.

  4. pcolon said,

    November 10, 2008 at 6:10 am

    Gravatar

    If I were to do a review of laundry detergent, handed a high end washer-dryer on an indefinite loan; would that add credibility to any positive remarks on the detergent?

  5. Harry McCracken said,

    November 10, 2008 at 10:57 am

    Gravatar

    I didn’t receive a laptop on indefinite loan; from the moment that Microsoft said it was distributing them, it stated that they were to be returned.

    I have the advantage of having been at the “secret” event in question–which, of course, I disclosed that I attended, which is an odd thing to do with a secret meeting–and you’re smearing people without knowing what you’re talking about.

    -Harry

  6. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 10, 2008 at 11:06 am

    Gravatar

    Well, I don’t know what I can believe. My sources say it was an “indefinite loan”. Also see:

    http://geekpi.com/?p=27

    “Oh, and just a note, other than this loaner laptop, I receive zero compensation from Microsoft (or from any other entity), my regular job is covering my travel expenses to the conference, and I receive no advertising dollars from this website.”

    It sounds like this chap considers his “loaner” (not “loaned”) laptop to be compensation.

    Back in Vista days, bloggers were not required to return the laptops, either.

    It seems to me like quite a few people are doing some ‘damage control’ at the moment.

  7. stevetheFLY said,

    November 10, 2008 at 11:39 am

    Gravatar

    “My sources say…” My ass! Which of your Usenet geek friends claimed to know someone who knew someone who heard something this time?

    Roy, you are insulting, you are stirring hatred and mutual distrust in the community, you know that? You alone have caused much more damage to the Linux community than everything Microsoft could ever do.

    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.

  8. twitter said,

    November 17, 2008 at 2:10 am

    Gravatar

    My opinion about this can be found here.

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