Publicity stunts galore
TIRELESSLY AND DECISIVELY we have been covering a great deal of manipulation from Microsoft, which is trying to shape the perceptions around Vista 7. Never underestimate Microsoft’s capabilities as a well-lubricated PR machine; after all, much of its ‘success’ is often attributed to marketing, lawyers and illegal activities for which they earned convictions.
PR and the supposed ‘leak’
It should be clear to all of us that these versions floating around various torrent sites – and especially the beta 1 – are carefully planned by public relations. And it’s brilliant. Why?
* Because they reach their target audience, people with tech skills who are still enthusiastic about Windows and are taking time to download, install and test the operating system. Most of them have blogs and will surely post something about it and creating hype for the next release.
* Zero distribution costs via peer-to-peer networks; no responsibility for download speed or failures.
* Press coverage on all the major blogs with little adverse consequences; even if the review is negative – the release is not official.
* A large, no-consequences, zero logistics, no expense beta test; Judging by ThePirateBay seeder/leecher ratio and the time of upload, more than 30 000 tech savvy people are running Windows 7 beta 1 right now and probably submitting bugs, crash reports and hardware information.
* Frameworks inside Windows 7 allow remote deactivation or ‘crippling’ via de WGA scheme. Your copy of Windows 7 works because Microsoft lets you. And they know a new machine is online the minute Windows connects to the internet.
Glyn Moody hits the nail on the head when he claims that Microsoft is merely inflating an image through illusions, in this case artificial scarcity.
So either they’re saying that they didn’t expect Windows 7 beta to be popular and their infrastructure doesn’t scale, or they’ve let this happen on purpose to generate a little buzz. In other words, in order to make Windows 7 desirable, first you make it unobtainable….
This bogus ‘crisis’ and the phony hype were created in accordance with screenshots of Microsoft’s guerrilla marketing blog. They appeared in The Register and in IDG, which repeatedly published to create a buzz about Vista 7 (more than once).
Vista 7 is just another Vista. It’s a little more advanced, but being a slightly advanced bad operating system does not make it a good one. The early adopters of pre-beta and beta builds just happen to be its anticipating fans, so the coverage will naturally be uneven and biased.
With the digit “7″ in many headlines, it has become abundantly apparent that Microsoft is burying Vista’s promotion, regardless of those $300 million (some sources said $500 million) in renewed advertising budget. The FSF has meanwhile taken the opportunity to declare the death of Vista in this press release, with a similar message at the front page of the BadVista campaign, which was a great success.
On December 15, 2006, the FSF launched its BadVista.org campaign to advocate for the freedom of computer users, opposing adoption of Microsoft Windows Vista and promoting free — as in freedom — software alternatives. Two years later, the campaign has nearly 7,000 registered supporters, the name Vista is synonymous in the public eye with failure, and we are declaring victory.
Vista is likely to be remembered as the point where Windows went horribly wrong and Vista 7 is a frantic response to negativity. The response to 7 is eerily similar to that which Vista received in early 2006 when mostly enthusiastic testers took it for a test drive. Little did they know that the many problems they had experienced would not go away when the beta tag gets removed. Moreover, the average user does not have equally-capable equipment on which to test — or actually use in a mission-critical setting — the operating system.
Even the Microsoft sympathisers at InformationWeek have just acknowledged that “Windows sales and market share, though robust, are in decline. The company’s efforts to expand into new markets are floundering, and key executives are jumping ship.” █