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07.12.09

How Microsoft Gags Dissenters and Bribes or Rewards Supporters

Posted in Marketing, Microsoft, Vista, Vista 7, Windows at 9:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“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

Summary: Another in-depth look at how Microsoft can guard the public image of Windows (or how to police the Web)

WE HAVE BEGUN assembling this experimental list about Vista 7 truths. We are not alone in suggesting that Vista 7 is a lot of marketing built on top of Windows Vista. Our reader Goblin has a batch of new posts on this subject, the first of which calls Vista 7 a “deja vu” because the hype surrounding it resembles the hype around Vista back in 2006.

The purpose of this article is to highlight a few points, firstly, the PR that Vista received pre-release from the MS faithful was, IMO very much the same as we see today for 7. Regardless of what people try to claim, I think its a given that Vista did not receive the reception that Microsoft would have liked.

In order to build up the hype, Microsoft’s leadership must punish Vista 7 dissenters [1, 2] (of which there are fewer before the official release, so they are relatively controllable) while rewarding or bribing influential voices whose opinions will ‘cascade’ onto readers/viewers and form a positive preconception/expectation until products are actually made available. At the same time, those who are used to attack dissenters can be awarded for it (or bribed, to put it more bluntly).

This is a very simple and common PR doctrine. It is sometimes called “perception management” [1, 2], which Microsoft cements with some legal terms and conditions. For example, at the beginning of this month we wrote about the London Stock Exchange (LSE) dumping its Windows platform and one person rightly argues (in the comments):

It’s quite likely that all of those related to the project who would actually know the exact nature of the failure. When posting via private e-mail, they can leak the information, but if they posted the information officially, their employers would be in violation of nodisclosures with LSE and LSE’s NDAs with Microsoft.

Funny how that works. The Consispiracy of Silence – all crafted by Microsoft’s lawyers.

Going back to Goblin, here is what he writes about Microsoft’s habit of bribing bloggers using Windows laptops.

Here, the concept of Microsoft giving away free laptops is covered: http://www.istartedsomething.com/20061227/microsoft-free-ferrari/ and the author comments:

“But if you write about Microsoft, they might even give you one for free. Is it ethical? Probably not. Is it worth something to hard-working sweat and tears bloggers? Hell yeah.”

Having said that, there are others who appear to have the same opinion as me, David Flynn said at the time:

“Any blogger with pretensions of being considered an independent voice and a ‘professional’ in their field or even their attitude, not to mention a sense of ethics, should be returning this ‘gift’ laptop to Microsoft.”

As he correctly points out, the FTC intends to combat this practice which Microsoft relies on. We wrote about this earlier [1, 2].

The FTC is allegedly planning to crackdown on bloggers/posters who recieve gifts/freebies for promoting products. Its a practice we have highlighted here before and one in my opinion that completely destroys the faith in “honest held belief” in the writings of many bloggers.

Ever read something praising a proprietary product where it has no resembelance to your experience? Its these type of posts which, because of the actions of certain proprietary firms means that when talking about proprietary software/products there is always a question of doubt in an honest held belief. (IMO)

The practice though is commonplace here (that being word of mouth marketing) one such company who can create a marketing buzz for you (as mentioned in the CNET article) http://izea.com/ and its worth keeping in mind when you see a person praising a product. What are their motives for doing so?

Will the FTC severely fine and shut down such companies whose only role is to deceive the public?

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2 Comments

  1. DiamondWakizashi said,

    July 12, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Gravatar

    Microsoft will become even more desperate and nasty when Vista 7 fails.

    David Gerard Reply:

    That would be when the phrase “Vista 7″ goes mainstream ;-)

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