Bonum Certa Men Certa

Blast from the Past and Evidence of Present Misconduct from Microsoft

The art of illusion, hypnotic propaganda

This fairly old article from The Chronicle outlines one of Microsoft's shameful secrets. It's referred to as "academic kickbacks" (kickback is a gentle form of bribery). To quote just the opening paragraph:

If you're a professor and you mention Microsoft programming tools in a scholarly presentation -- in fact, even if you just use the tools -- Microsoft will send you a check for $200.


In case you believe that Microsoft has left such dirty tricks behind, think again. We were reminded just months ago by a reader that Microsoft continues to do such things in Europe. It happens under everyone's noise. The media, unsurprisingly, hardly covers any of this fiasco, with the exception of a few bold reporters.

While we're at it covering such past stories, how about this one?

The Best Enthusiasm Money Can Buy

We might think that spending several hundreds of millions of dollars every year on commercial speech would be just about enough to allow any company to "tell its story" to the public. But we would not be Microsoft, who the Los Angeles Times revealed was gearing up a multi-million dollar public relations campaign which included planting ersatz letters to the editor in major national newspapers. The goal: to create the appearance, if not the reality, of "grassroots" support for the company.

"Spontaneous" testimonials penned by hired guns may not be an entirely novel idea in the surreal world of public relations, but Microsoft's response to having been caught in the act of committing such a crass act was certainly uncommon. At first, the company denied their intentions to actually implement such a plan. Then, a few days later, company spokespersons announced a new spin: Microsoft has a perfect right to engage in public opinion manipulation campaigns, if that's what it takes to "tell its story."

Now, what exactly was that story, again?


At present, there are similar stories to tell, including Microsoft's purchase of love, AstroTurfing and viral marketing (see some recent examples here).

Monopoly has money

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