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The World According to ZDNet: Vista 7 a Whole Area of IT

Posted in Marketing, Microsoft, Vista 7, Windows at 1:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

…or just paid placement? You can be the judge.

Summary: ZDNet UK puts up Microsoft-endorsing elements in ‘news’ pages and nukes comments that expose Microsoft’s PR department, Waggener Edstrom

THE MONOPOLIST from Redmond loves injecting trademarks into people’s consciousness. We already know that Microsoft was 'incentivising' hundreds of Korean bloggers to write a lot about Vista 7 . That’s just one example among others for which there is ample evidence.

The screenshot at the top (annotated) helps show circumstantial evidence which may suggest there is a paid endorsement in the editorial part of ZDNet UK. What is “Windows 7″ doing there? It is totally out of place, sitting there among actual areas of IT. “Windows 7″ is not “Windows” or even “Microsoft”. Why is this a whole category? This seemed suspicious, so I raised this question while they tried to silence me for posting politely my opinions in ZDNet UK (they also threatened to remove my account, even though I did nothing wrong, as people can judge by comments I reproduced and see for themselves).

My question, which was not deleted by the way, sought to discover whether the site’s marketing side was affecting editorial sections without disclosures. There is no need to be inflammatory about it and I was very polite. I also pointed out that ZDNet’s Twitter account is summarised as “All the latest business technology news, covering security, mobile, Microsoft and much more” (Microsoft is the only trademark mentioned). It’s basically the same pattern as the above. Microsoft is the only trademark to be mentioned by what claims to be a technology site. Here is what I wrote to ZDNet:

Upon closer inspection, this gets even more interesting. I see that the said twitter account follows 33 people and also an account called “(http://twitter.com/)/ZDNetUK_Win7″. I notice that alongside menu items at the top of *all* pages in ZDNet UK there is an oddly out-of-place section called “Windows 7″ (and again, it’s the only brand mentioned). I clicked on and it’s purely promotional therein. It says: “ZDNet UK’s special report covers a range of content, including reviews, articles and videos, to help you discover the key features in Microsoft’s latest operating system, as well as the pitfalls you should be looking out for.”

But more interestingly, all comments that mention Microsoft’s PR department, known as Waggener Edstrom, were removed. When one wants to do paid Microsoft endorsement, it’s natural to go through Waggener Edstrom. Microsoft.com refers such queries to Waggener Edstrom.

What was conspicuous to me was that ZDNet became extremely panicky and very defensive of this firm, whose named was removed along with all comments that even mentioned it. In fact, the response from ZDNet (which came late, around the time we complained about censorship) only dealt with the Waggener Edstrom claims, not rebutting the remaining evidence but instead throwing everything away by just using Waggener Edstrom as an excuse (it was not even mentioned in all the comments).

“The claims about ZDNet UK were not removed, just the ones about Waggener Edstrom. What is this irrational fear of criticising Waggener Edstrom?”We do know that Waggener Edstrom was pressuring British publications like The Inquirer to change their coverage. The Inquirer wrote about it. Is ZDNet fearful of criticising Waggener Edstrom? And if so, why? It’s just Microsoft’s marketing department. Why is this such a sensitive subject?

We only encourage people to explore this and to take these questions further. Where there is smoke there is often fire.

Look again at the deleted comments, in particular Comment #6 and Comment #7. Both of these are the ones which mentioned Waggener Edstrom. None of the 7 comments were deleted until comments #6 and #7 got posted; it’s as though we blew a dog whistle and the E-mail response to us further validates such a theory because it only defended Waggener Edstrom and ignored all the remaining evidence. Is a sacred cow the trigger? Watch the response from ZDNet: “In addition, they make unsubstantiated harmful suggestions about companies – about ZDNet UK, for example. Some of these comments may place this site at legal risk,” said Karen Friar only after I had mentioned Waggener Edstrom (and their name got wiped off the page). I did provide links, e.g. documents from Comes vs Microsoft, to support my claims. Karen ignored this court exhibit. The claims about ZDNet UK were not removed, just the ones about Waggener Edstrom. What is this irrational fear of criticising Waggener Edstrom?

To summarise, we would like to leave an open question: what is the relationship — if any — between Waggener Edstrom and ZDNet? I sent ZDNet’s editorial team this question. Even though they did write to us before, to this question they did not reply. It has been 2 days, so we assume that “no comment” is their stance. The top of all Web page in the site (which possibly reaches a million per day) is still an endorsement of “Windows 7″. It validates the product in a strange context.

“In honor of the event, Pam Edstrom, who had since left Microsoft to cofound her own agency, Waggener Edstrom, and handle Microsoft’s PR from the outside, sponsored a “Windows Roast.” Gathered at the Alexis Park Resort in Las Vegas, Gates and Ballmer made fun of themselves and not so subtly apologized for the Windows delays. “To Dream the Impossible Dream” was the theme song playing in the background. With three hundred analysts and members of the press invited to these festivities where Gates and Ballmer let it all hang out, it was another coup for “Gates’s Keeper.” Gates joked that Ballmer had insisted, ” ‘We just gotta cut features.’ He came up with this idea that we could rename this thing Microsoft Window—and we would have shipped that thing a long time ago.”

Barbarians Led by Bill Gates, a book composed
by Pam’s daughter

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  1. twitter said,

    April 21, 2011 at 9:03 am


    Those two things are interesting. I wonder if Microsoft and WE’s always aggressive advertising has pushed them into violating UK law.

    There are good reasons for a news organization that caters to Windows users to fear WE. People unfamiliar with how PR firms operate should look into the above Techrights WE index and this little spat about “embargos”. Reporters that are not on mesage will get a WE “buddy” to correct them. News organizations that don’t report the news the Microsoft way will get cut off by WE and every other source of Microsoft “news”. If they persued the now failed Righthaven strategy, WE may have threatened to sue disobedient news organizations that might inadvertently copy more than a few words of any WE press release. The way Microsoft punishes OEMs that don’t robotically “recommend Microsoft latest_trash_OS” is indirect evidence of how Microsoft would treat independent news organizations. Independence is the first cost of doing business with Microsoft.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Independence is assurance that writers won’t be paid, in which case the publication won’t survive for long. It’s a shame we are losing Pam from Groklaw, Carla from Linux Today, and Susan’s TuxMachine has been offline for 2 days now (I’ve just contacted the Webmaster to inquire about the reason and/or current situation).

  2. walterbyrd said,

    April 21, 2011 at 11:50 am


    Could you provide a link to the article in question? The article where “Windows 7″ is an entire category, and where your comments were removed?

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    All the pages have “Windows 7″ as an entire category and the post in question is at http://www.zdnet.co.uk/blogs/the-open-source-revolution-10014902/articles-of-roy-schestowitz-10022241/#comments

    Notice how many new-created pro-Mono sockpuppets (e.g. “TheKernel”) suddenly materialise in the comments section and then insult me, even today. They chat about this in Twitter and maybe coordinate the smearing. Their arguments are wrong, but as a matter of principle I am not commenting in that site anymore. I only joined the discussion after people there had spread false information about me. ZDNet censored even my polite responses which were defenses I wrote. Defending oneself — the falsely accused — is apparently too much for ZDNet.

    Shame on the editors. Very incompetent job from them. An hour ago I had a long Twitter exchange with Dana Blankenhorn, the ZDNet blogger who covered Open Source in the US site for quite a few years. He finally told me why they fired him. He made one single claim that he could not back (not that it was false, he just did not produce concrete evidence). If you are interested in more details and also for future reference, see my identi.ca/Twitter stream for today (21/04/11). I made some other concise points about ZDNet. I don’t think this case is closed and I am eager to research it further.

    jocaferro Reply:

    TheKernel is trying to call you a liar but looking to his comments we can see whom is the liar. In one of the comments he try to tell the world and a dog that MS licensed the Mono code under Apache 2.
    In fact, even the Mono faq proves that this “TheKernel” is a liar since is very explicit that:

    ASP.NET MVC, the Managed Extensibility Framework (MEF), the Dynamic Language Runtime (DLR), System.Data.Services.Client, parts of System.Numerics and ASP.NET AJAX client software are released by Microsoft under the open source Microsoft Permissive License, some of them are dual licensed also as Apache2

    MPI and some of them Apache 2!

    Of course this is not a momentary lapse of reason. This is premeditated!

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    There are many more lies coming from Mono booster “TheKernel” (I sure hope the username he has just created is not indication of where he wants Mono), but ZDNet is OK with leaving unsubstantiated claims in tact. It’s good for the advertiser.

    twitter Reply:

    His case is open now but ZDNet probably has it in for him. We can help him by finding some backup he was unable to find but a company that fires people for a single minor lapse while keeping rude idiots like Microsoft Jack will soon find another excuse. Dana should talk to a lawyer.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    He doesn’t seem to be interested in that. Anyway, it’s not about Dana, whose situation with ZDNet I think he kept quiet about until today (I don’t think he ever named the cause before I mentioned Linux, whereupon he corrected a speculation).

    By the way, Carla is not permitted to speak about reasons for her dismissal. Judging by the articles she published around that time, the overwhelming Microsoft advertising is a very likely cause.

    twitter Reply:

    I wish that I hadn’t but I had another look at that ZDNet comment thread. Yes, they still carry on after five days.

    Jack’s comments are particularly disgraceful. He accuses you of running from supposed errors after you explicitly said you were leaving because you should not comment where the editors pick and chose what comments they keep and exercise that ability in an inconsistent and unfair way.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    But wait. It’s worse than that. The comments of mine that they deleted where actually responses to wrongful allegations against me. IOW, they did not allow me to defend myself. The other comments they deleted mentioned the W-E sacred cow. Nothing obscene, nothing unlawful; they are just being selective.

    By the way, Jack had at least two comments deleted (apparently). The second time a comment from him vanished, he too stopped commenting.

    twitter Reply:

    Well, of course you can’t defend yourself where ZDNet yanks your comments defending yourself but, ick, you made me look again. Jack posted again just yesterday.

    it doesn’t look as though Schetowitz is coming back. I assume he is unable to produce any authoritative independent evidence for his Spanair claims, as requested. but isn’t man enough to admit it, and he won’t do what I think any decent human being would do, and remove it. I trust anyone who thinks techrights.org is based on real research or a desire for truth will draw the appropriate conclusion.

    How stupid and disgusting. The article itself is well documented and anyone doing a Google search finds a pile of damning articles. The Register, MSNBC, CNet and ZDNet all picked up on judge Juan David Perez’s investigation. The ZDNet article was based on a not so great translation of a not so great El Pais article, and this may be where the notion that the computer at fault, “mainframe”, was not in the plane and this is what Florian Mueller picked up on as he tried to blame IBM as if IBM were subject to Windows malware. So, what we may see from Microsoft Jack is a piece of ZDNet/Microsoft ass covering that happened right away. Reading MSNBC and other Microsoft controlled press is always problematic as Microsoft often modifies stories to help themselves. More damning evidence than most of the above, shows this was a typical Windows PC problem, perhaps from a USB stick and comes from this techdirt story which is a little more independent. The trolls again seize on the original ZDNet spin and try to revive their own reputation and that of Microsoft Florian by pointing to silly articles that echo and conflate the original mistake. The Register article has sufficient technical details to convince anyone who might still wonder. Had anything but Windows been used and the computer had done it’s job the plane would never have taken off. At the time, it was reported that there were other stupid management decisions besides Microsoft use that left people overworked and safety compromised and most disasters happen after a series of failures but the last system should have prevented it. The definitive report from judge Perez was due last December. I hope the Microsoft people have not done to Perez what they did to Judge Jackson. Microsoft people don’t let the truth or harm to others get in their way and we see both of these things in their vile attack in ZDNet comments.

    We can be sure that Microsoft Jack will continue being himself but ZDNet should let themselves be embarrassed by him. His attack on Roy and Techrights is about as nasty and unprofessional as the one MoG got herself fired for.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Fired? She’s still there. They just tried to save face at the time.

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