08.08.09

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The Microsoft Schwag Club

Posted in Hardware, HP, Microsoft, Vista, Windows at 4:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Dollars in the scanner

Summary: Another look at transactions of computers among fans of Vista and the maker/distributor of Vista

SEVERAL days ago we wrote about Andre da Costa [1, 2, 3], whom Microsoft sent an expensive laptop after he had praised the company in many thousands of postings. Microsoft has a proven habit of using rewards to incentivise positive coverage. Not so long ago we wrote about John Obeto, who runs a Vista glamourisation Web site. Microsoft sent him an expensive laptop. What was even more interesting is finding out that two recipients of gifts from Microsoft are in fact connected too. Here is John Obeto giving Andre da Costa a Vista computer, which was apparently sponsored in exchange for some publicity and positive coverage. This cannot be confirmed however.

adacosta (Andre da Costa) has been selected as the winner of the HP xw4600 Personal Workstation Giveaway by AbsoluteVista.com.

Our reader Goblin is preparing another report to the FTC. His is already 33 pages long (excluding exhibits). The FTC has plans of stopping the bribing of bloggers by companies — schwag in exchange for positive coverage. It is a commendable push, and it had to start somewhere.

“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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10 Comments

  1. Goblin said,

    August 8, 2009 at 5:14 am

    Gravatar

    Hi! Roy,

    The FTC interest in “gifting” whilst commendable and another step towards unbiased reporting by bloggers has a few issues (as I see it)

    It appears (and I could be wrong) that the remit of the FTC extends only to the US. Should any proprietary company engage in activities that the FTC would consider unethical I believe the FTC could not do anything about it should that source be in another country.

    Bloggers, in my opinion are the most “dangerous” reporters on the web IMO. Afterall who is the average user going to believe first, a large IT site that relies on proprietary software to advertise on it or the seemingly innocent blogger who has no apparent connection to anything.

    The work put into the report (IMO) highlights a rather dubious set of activities which is not limited to one proprietary firm. I think there are many with a vested interest in making sure the ethos of FOSS never “gets off the ground”.

    One of the main reasons for me appearing in COLA was to observe the posting of certain individuals and it makes me wonder, if my son was posting on the net and was given an expensive gift from a proprietary firm if that would change his viewpoint. I think it would and I think poorer countries/impressionable youngsters would be the target if its proved that the practice is still actively engaged in.

    I think the allegation of paranoia in respect of proprietary shills is largely the fault of practices such as these being rumored on the net. I find it very difficult to believe someone who has positive words in regards to proprietary. I am sure there are many with an honest held belief that certain proprietary products are great, unfortunately certain firms IMO have “done their own legs” by being rumored to be engaged in the practices of gifting.

    A good example of a dubious poster IMO was the one on COLA recently where a user called megabyte stated that Microsoft shared some of the blame in regards to Vista, they then went on to push Windows 7 and the post became more like an advert.

    I see alot of posts with “I am a Linux user but…………” or “I love Linux but…….”
    its a very cheap tactic and a dangerous one too, usually followed by a promotion of proprietary solutions.

    I asked of megabyte the one question which IMO has never been answered, which was:

    “What can Windows 7 do that cannot be achieved via 3rd party software or natively in XP?, furthermore, what can you do as a Windows 7 user that I cannot as a Linux one?”

    There has yet to be a response on COLA and I’m certainly not expecting an answer.

    Of course once I have submitted my work I would not expect an immediate response. I do believe there are many “interested parties” on the net who would look through the report with a fine tooth comb for something to apply for a civil case against me. I will save those people time now and state that I have closed all avenues to that recourse. I present my work as my observations. I have not even included my opinions/views. The report represents many months of work, documenting and logging, if the FTC is interested and wants to draw inference then that is up to them.

    Roy, as always I find your work thought provoking and interesting, there has been a trend recently (IMO) to try and split your work with the rest of the FOSS community, it has been quite cleverly done and its been tried by certain posters on my blog.

    @Everyone else:

    I don’t think Roy will appreciate me saying this as I have found him to be a very modest man, but I would like to set the record straight. The insulting comments towards Roy do not have any similarity to any experiences I have had. I have found Roy, polite, interesting, intelligent and friendly…since myself and Roy have vastly different views on many topics I think thats a testament to the way Roy conducts himself.

    What I would say to anyone who may have read things about BN its chatroom and or Roy, come over and visit and find out for yourself. I see no truth in any of the insults thrown at Roy.

    Goblin.

  2. TheTruth said,

    August 8, 2009 at 6:58 am

    Gravatar

    “What can Windows 7 do that cannot be achieved via 3rd party software or natively in XP?, furthermore, what can you do as a Windows 7 user that I cannot as a Linux one?”

    The reason why you will not get an answer from that question is simple. It’s a pointless question.
    If anyone had to provide an answer it would propably be “NOTHING”.

    There is probably nothing you cannot do with Linux or XP that you can do with Win 7 or Vista or XP for that matter.

    Thats not the point, people have to freedom to choose whatever product or system they want.

    Thats FREEDOM, If Linux does what you want use that, if Win 7 does what you need it to, Use Win 7.

    If DOS, OpenSolaris, VMS, AmigaOS, OSX or a pocket calculator or PDA does what you want and need, you are free to choose your of choice.

    It’s called a meritocracy, which means products advance in terms of their merit. Sure OO.o is doing well, based on it’s merits, as is Firefox. Therefore good products that do what they say they do and the way people want them too become popular.

    There was a time when UNIX ruled the world and Windows did not exist, but being a meritocracy, people chose what they liked based on that MERIT. As they should.

    *********

    “What I would say to anyone who may have read things about BN its chatroom and or Roy, come over and visit and find out for yourself. I see no truth in any of the insults thrown at Roy.”

    Yes, please read the BN IRC chat room logs if you want a clear picture of the motives and attitudes of those that reside there.

    If you enter the chat room be sure not to say anything contrary to Roy’s believe system otherwise he will /kick you from “his” IRC channel.

    You are not allowed to offer unbiased or logical opinion or provide any links that refute any claims made by Roy or his minions.

    (I fully expect my login account to be deleted due to this post).

    As posting any negative comments here is also tightly controled by Roy’s censorship.

    As BN it’s Roy’s way or the highway.

    That is a shame as most people come here for some truth or balance, some come for re-inforcement of their beliefs regardless of sense, logic or often facts.

    This greatly devalues the opinions and comments made here, its generally known that all comments from BN or Roy need to be taken with a great deal of sceptisism, all good reporting should be confirmed and second sourced. Thies does not occure at BN.

    Goblin are you saying you are not going to make you’re report public ?? and if so why not, you claim fear of litigation, is that why ?

    (you can only be litigated if you do not state the truth).

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    How many different names have you had in IRC, “_Mutex_”? Like 15? Remember what it is that led people to voting for a ban in the first place?

    As a reader of a site which proclaims to be anti-Linux (Linsux), you should not try to pretend to be a victim. You came here to provoke, to troll.

  3. TheTruth said,

    August 8, 2009 at 9:51 am

    Gravatar

    You have me confused with someone else Roy, Yes im _mutex_ but NO I dont come from or go too or visit/view the linsux web site, I went it one weeks ago and found it boring.

    Ive never posted on the site or created an account there.

    And Ive read the logs Roy it was not a “vote” to ban me, you simply do not agree with me checking your facts and questioning your claims.

  4. Goblin said,

    August 8, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Gravatar

    @The Truth

    I shouldn’t encourage.

    Quote “If you enter the chat room be sure not to say anything contrary to Roy’s believe system otherwise he will /kick you from “his” IRC channel.”

    Liar. My views on DRM for example are vastly different to Roy’s. Please, quote that conversation, I neither got kicked or insulted. I had a debate with some users then the topic moved on.

    Quote “As BN it’s Roy’s way or the highway.”

    Liar. I as for the above reasons. DRM is one of many topics where myself and Roy differ in opinion.

    Quote “(you can only be litigated if you do not state the truth).”

    Really?…well I never knew that…. ;) Good God…who do you think you are talking to?

    I don’t claim fear of litigation (if only you knew), I was trying to prevent receiving a plethora of silly emails directed at me with weak legal threats by anon senders. It seems to have worked. My inbox often has many legitimate emails that I try to respond to and I don’t want to have to start filtering out the rubbish. An example of this in recent months was the Twitter account “Microsoftlegal” which is now deleted….I highlighted it at the time for making silly remarks and it was simply a waste of my time…

    If, (as you seem to monitor the BN IRC) you had read recently then you would have seen that its being submitted first and then a released to the public. If some of the information does make uncomfortable reading for some, I don’t want those posts/sites being deleted before the FTC are given the opportunity to look at them. Use your common sense. Its hardly worth submitting exhibits and then giving people the chance to remove them is it?

    I am sorry my intentions were lost on you….

    Regards and best wishes
    Goblin.

    TheTruth Reply:

    Obviously you and Roy work closely together, he does after all give you channel control of IRC when he’s not around, so you’re a person who has the same belief system as Roy, and you will just as happily /kick me as he will.

    No im not a liar, and thanks for making it personal as tends to happen here.

    You are not kicked because you basically follow Roy arguments and thinking, you work with Roy closely with things like this FTC submission.

    I would have thought that for the same of disclosure you would make your submission public, as surley you have nothing you are ashamed of, that is not true or that you have to hide. And im sure you could post it here on BN and you would be assured that Roy will not delete it.

    If you fail to post it and make it public, you are indicating to everyone that you are not that proud of your efforts, and allthough your happy to say what your doing you will not state exactly what your doing, agaist who, and what proof you have of your claims.

    I also believe you are in the UK with Roy, if that is the case what business is it of your what a US company is doing, and why should be put at risk jobs in another country ?

    Is that just based on Hatred ?

    When you make out your FTC submission, do you reference who you are, what you represent and disclose you are from BN web site and part of an organised and coordinated campain with Roy and BN to damage those you hate ?

    Thats why I would like to have make FREE and public your submission, or the truth of your claims will be in question.

    Not to mention if the FTC decided to investigate your “claims” you would then be required to provide proof of your claims, or face possible action yourself.

    Im sure your aware of that though.

    zatoichi Reply:

    Liar. My views on DRM for example are vastly different to Roy’s. Please, quote that conversation, I neither got kicked or insulted.

    Liar, yourself. Roy indulges in precisely the behavior described, and bounces anyone who takes issue with his “agenda” off IRC repeatedly.

  5. Chips B. Malroy said,

    August 8, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    Gravatar

    First I am going to ignore Mutex and his cry to get back into the IRC, where he attacked people, and was highly disruptive, like the Linsux folks that here came there to promote Microsoft, saying they were BSD people, LOL.

    And like Goblin, I too disagree with Roy on some things, one of which is letting people like Mutex post here, after giving him so many chances on the IRC. Roy is far too generous, IMO with these shills and trolls. but, it is Roy’s site.

    With that out of the way, we can discuss this article, which is important. Its about Microsoft using Schwag (gifts of high value, not money) to influence people who blog in some way. Its more than just Laptop or computer giveaways. Awhile back Boycott Novell had an article asking for information on those who had received laptops from Microsoft. Here is a partial list of 25 bloggers that received laptops.

    http://labnol.blogspot.com/2006/12/bloggers-who-have-received-microsoft.html

    Now I am not writing this to put the finger on these people, but to show how Microsoft is gaming the news and blogging systems. These folks have to live with their own actions, but the problem of MS corrupting the process is the real threat here.

    MS thought it could hide all this from the public, until Long Zeng published it. After the cat was out of the bag, then MS told those it had given the Schwag to, to acknowledge it. At that point MS must have know that more people were going talk, and the information would come out, it was only a question of time, when it would come out.

    But it goes beyond “free laptops and computers,” take a lot here, and btw, again I am not pointing a finger at those who “received,” only at the corporation that did this.

    http://www.jasondunn.com/windows-vista-hardware-90

    Quote from the above link: “ I wrote about my experiences, and disclosed that Microsoft was paying the airfare and hotel bills. There have been a couple of events that they’ve brought us down for, and next month I’m going to CES 2007 half-courtesy of Microsoft: they’re covering my air fare (about $380 CAD) and I’m covering my hotel room (about $100 per night over five nights). I’ve always been open about the free stuff I get from Microsoft events – as an MVP, I’ve been given free Pocket PCs, as a Mobius member I’ve been given free Smartphones and other goodies.”

    What I notice is how many of these that receive the Schwag, blog and are MVP’s. Obeta mentioned in this article is I believe, or was at one time, an MS MVP. In fact, doing a google search for “mvp microsoft Acer Ferrari” returns a wealth of data. Are many who blog favorably from MS also given the reward of a title as well?

    zatoichi Reply:

    First I am going to ignore Mutex…

    It’s terrific the way that ignoring, or muzzling, folks who disagree with “the party line” is the first line of “debate” around this place. The fact that Roy and his gang are both unwilling and unable to have a legitimate debate around issues is quite telling.

  6. TheTruth said,

    August 9, 2009 at 8:03 am

    Gravatar

    so I guess your next target will be Linus Torvalds for taking $20 MILLION DOLLARS in stock options from Red Hat then Right ???

    As for letting me in IRC many times, that is not true.

    I logged on under a different name, so I could read the news, IF i ever posted Roy would ping my IP address and /kick me.

    I did not matter what I posted, and if you care to read the logs I was not disruptive, but I did provide links and proof that some of the claims made on BN IRC were either FALSE or MISLEADING.

    When I pointed these issues out, POLITELY and accurately I would be called a shill or troll and kicked.

    This is not what free discussion is about, in Roy’s IRC it IS the case its either ROY’s world view or you’re kicked.

    It’s clear Roy is unwilling to engage in reasoned and logical debate, prefering to use his power’s of censorship to do his bidding.

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