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12.27.08

Former Microsoft Shill Openly Confesses, Alleges Microsoft Still Does This

Posted in Fraud, Microsoft at 1:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“It could be argued that Microsoft’s unethical Technology Evangelism (TE) practices are “old news”—i.e., that Microsoft stopped using these questionable TE practices long ago. This is very unlikely to be the case, for at least three reasons.”

James Plamondon, former Microsoft shill (aka ‘Technology Evangelist’)

Microsoft is very well aware that the beans have been spilled and its disgraceful AstroTurf tactics are now known to an increasing number of people. As a victim of Microsoft's tactics, I am neither willing to forget nor to forgive them. I intend to inform, to expose, and hopefully to make those responsible come forward or get sued.

James Plamondon is one of the key people behind it. You can find samples of his 'work' in several pages of this Web site. He explained in 2008: “Between 1992 and 2000, I was a Technology Evangelist (TE) with Microsoft, where I was widely considered to be its leading TE theorist and practitioner. For example, in the late 1990′s, I was the only Microsoft employee to design and lead TE training seminars that all of Microsoft’s newly-hired TE’s were required to attend.”

“As a victim of Microsoft’s tactics, I am neither willing to forget nor to forgive them.”By forcing dirty secrets into public knowledge, we forced people who had practiced these illegal tactics on behalf of Microsoft to come out and acknowledge them. Marshall Goldberg is apparently one of the high-level people responsible for it too. Is it he who rates Microsoft products 5/5 in Amazon? Either way, a Marshall Goldberg was presenting alongside James Plamondon, but there is not much information about this Marshall on the Web. Remember “Steve Barkto” [1, 2, 3, 4]?

There are several Web sites which seek to bring out the truth other than ourselves. There are other domains like slated.org, edge-op.org and even this Russian site, gotthefacts.org, which all expose the same type of illegal Microsoft tactics. Most of them just provide Web hosting (mirrors) for the evidence stamped by a United States court.

Several weeks ago we received a public message from James Plamondon, who said:

Roy, et al.,

You’re right. Some of the evangelism practices that I taught and executed at Microsoft in the 1990’s were unethical. I didn’t think so at the time — I thought that they were just hyper-competitive — but I agree now.

I am trying to change the error of my ways. I trust that you will agree that even the most hardened sinner can be redeemed.

We also obtained a copy of a private E-mail claiming to be from James Plamondon, but we can’t divulge it. Our source says: “Perhaps he’s on a fishing expedition to find out exactly what else is out there that might show him in a bad light. And wants me to do it for him. Remember all these Comes docs were supposed to stay buried.”

We’ve asked for permission to publish that E-mail too. Unless it’s fake (which is unlikely), this was sent to Groklaw too.

In any case, James now has his own blog where he’s disclosing some of the things he was doing at Microsoft. He even links to Groklaw and Slated.org. For example:

For eight years (1992-2000), I was the driving force behind Microsoft’s effort to make its Technology Evangelism (TE) efforts more efficient, effective, and ruthless, by studying both the practice and the theory of TE. After leaving Microsoft in 2000, I spurned the inquiries of numerous Microsoft competitors to testify on their behalf. As recently as year, I fell on my sword on Microsoft’s behalf.

So why come forward now?

Two reasons.

First, the global financial melt-down forced an epiphany. We at Microsoft always felt that we were on the side of free markets and unfettered capitalism—you know, the Good Guys. But so did the guys at Lehman Brothers, AIG, Fannie Mae, and all of the other failed financial institutions. Even Alan Greenspan, the High Priest of free markets, has had to concede that there’s “a flaw” in free market economics—a flaw that led directly to the current financial collapse.

My belief that I was one of the Good Guys was similarly flawed. This is now inescapable. I was wrong. Many of the TE practices that I developed, taught, and espoused were wrong. Anyone who continues to practice them is wrong. As a first step towards making amends for my past wrongdoing, I must make this clear, and widely known.

Second, Microsoft—where these practices were developed, welcomed, and endorsed as official policy—is this week launching its first public volley in the Mother of All Standards Battles, to control the de facto standards of cloud computing. For Microsoft, this is a life-or-death struggle. When Microsoft’s back is to the wall, can it reasonably be expected to refrain from using the TE tactics that it KNOWS will help it win, if its use of those tactics is unrestrained?

However, my concern is not just for Microsoft. These TE practices are very effective, and now that some of them have been documented in the public record, other platform vendors will be tempted to use them, too, when their backs are against the wall.

This problem can only be treated, I believe, by professionalizing TE, and thereby inoculating platform vendors against unethical TE practices.

That’s why I felt compelled to come forward now. Only now have I realized how wrong I was, and by coming forward now, in the opening skirmishes of the Cloud Computing Wars, I can begin to make amends for my past wrong-doing.

Our previous post discusses exactly that. Microsoft is on “a Slog” against competing virtualisation/cloud offers and also against GNU/Linux, which is facilitated by these. Microsoft attacks Google Apps via former employees; Preston Gralla, who some call “a Microsoft shill”, joined this anti-Google Apps parade earlier this week, twice in a row in fact (his blog is called “Seeing Through Windows”). He’s assisted by his IDG colleague, Eric Lai, in the “Regarding Redmond” blog. Need it be repeatedly said that IDG receives Microsoft money [1, 2]? This impacts coverage through biased appointments and editorship. Preston Gralla, for example, attacks GNU/Linux constantly by promoting Microsoft vapourware that involved bribing bloggers.

Going back to James, it makes a lot of sense. This former Microsoft shill (he insists on calling it “TE”) also says that Microsoft must still be doing it, and in fact it’s quite evident. He also wrote:

It could be argued that Microsoft’s unethical Technology Evangelism (TE) practices are “old news”—i.e., that Microsoft stopped using these questionable TE practices long ago. This is very unlikely to be the case, for at least three reasons.

[...]

The point is that this Judgment, by affecting only TE activities after the last major beta test release, does almost nothing to limit Microsoft ability to perform TE unethically, and indeed increases its incentive to put the hammer down before the last major beta test release is issued.

Secondly, to the extent that the requirements imposed by Section III.D of the Judgment had any salutary effect on Microsoft’s TE practices, those requirements are now irrelevant, as the term of that section of the Judgment expired in 2007 (although the requirements of other sections were extended). Microsoft is now free to practice TE any way it damn well pleases, without let or hindrance.

Thirdly, members of the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) community have asserted that Microsoft has used these practices in its recent evangelism as recently as last year (2007).

In summary, this aspect of Microsoft’s illegal behaviour is not a theory. It’s a reality. Even those who were involved in it regretted this after leaving the company and then divulge these secrets simply because they had already been leaked out to the public throughout class action litigation (2006, with further analysis in 2007). They want to tell their own story because the evidence is too embarrassing for them to cope with. They spin, spin, spin, but the truth remains too hard to deny. People should not be gullible and they can independently interpret the evidence [PDF].

“In summary, this aspect of Microsoft’s illegal behaviour is not a theory. It’s a reality.”This is worth keeping in mind — especially amongst victims of Microsoft’s ill practices — in case a lawsuit is filed against the company in the future. People should not just avoid the company for behaving in this way; entire countries should sue Microsoft or impose an embargo already.

This is not competition. It’s unhealthy market distortion, it’s corruption. Real people are hurt and Microsoft’s competitors who cater for their families lose their jobs so that Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates can hoard billions and funnel these into governments so that they will blindly procure Microsoft. It’s the kickbacks routine, which perverted procurement is a part of. It has mischief and manipulation written all over it and there are heaps of hard evidence.

These things are large and complex, but thanks to input from readers and fellow bloggers we are beginning to obtain and put together a comprehensive alta vista that explains how Microsoft operates internally (if not intimately). Those who are desperate to dispute it must stop attacking the messenger; this only legitimises the message, which cannot be countered directly.

Related posts (more of Microsoft’s dirty tricks):

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