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Leaked: Microsoft Pays Companies to Recommend Windows

"<vendor> recommends Windows" is an paid-for advert, not a recommendation

Kid with laptop



SOME weeks ago we wrote about how Microsoft fakes recommendations and deceives the public. Now we have solid proof.



Let's take it one step at a time and see how this works.

In short, Microsoft informs computer shops that if they put some Vista advertising in their newspaper advertisements (or other forms of ads), there will be money in the bank for them, paid in the form of marketing money from Microsoft.

This is how Microsoft gets all those Vista advertisements all over the place, including big OEMs. They pay you for it. It's an advert, not a sincere recommendation. This may also explain why Dell's adverts for Ubuntu-powered PCs are accompanied by pro-Windows messages, as Ken Stark pointed out recently (Dell was subjected to bad and exclusionary deals before).

Here is how the stunt runs. It begins with a message like this one (which we anonymised):




Hi [company name omitted]

Your company can get [amount omitted] in vouchers if you utilize [proportion omitted] by [date omitted] on a preapproved offer and post the final claim by [another date omitted]. I have enclosed details of the promotion with this email, and am including information on how to utilise coop as well.

It would be fantastic to see you qualify for the vouchers! Given the end of life with Windows XP and the steady sales of Vista (GFK tracks that over 89% of managed retailers are selling Vista PCs to consumers), it would be great to put this towards a Vista sales incentive for your staff or channel partners.

Included/Attached €· Terms and Conditions €· Quick Guide to running a COOP Customer Offer

Any questions, let me know.

Regards

[name of Microsoft employee omitted]




Here is the Terms and Conditions document:




OEM Cooperative Marketing Execution Promotion

If you are defined as a System Builder or a Named Account in the OEM Cooperative marketing program and have an active enrolment status, you could be eligible for vouchers which you may choose to use to support a Windows Vista PC sales incentive with your sales team.

[...]

Terms and Conditions:

1.Timing of promotion. In order to be eligible for an incentive, you must comply with the specified deadlines. Microsoft reserves the right in its sole discretion to cancel, terminate, modify, recommence or suspend either or both parts of the promotion at any time.

2.Tax. Microsoft accepts no responsibility for any tax implications that may arise from this promotion. Microsoft will not remit any taxes on your behalf, nor will it provide any tax-related documentation to you. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any taxes arising from participation in the promotion are reported and paid to the appropriate tax authority. All amounts payable by Microsoft are inclusive of GST (if any). You should seek independent tax and financial advice.

3.Microsoft’s decision final. Microsoft’s decision in relation to all aspects of this promotion is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

4.Limitation and exclusion of liability. Subject to any applicable law which cannot be excluded, Microsoft and its related bodies corporate shall not be liable for any loss, damage or injury suffered or sustained (including but not limited to direct, indirect or consequential loss or loss arising from negligence) arising directly or indirectly out of or in connection with the promotion or any incentive.

5.Microsoft’s verification right. Microsoft may choose to verify any information provided by you in connection with this promotion (including, if Microsoft chooses to do so, by contacting your end-user customers), and if Microsoft reasonably believes that you have fabricated or altered any information, then Microsoft may determine that you are ineligible for either or both incentives. You must, if requested by Microsoft, promptly provide any requested information related to the promotion or your eligibility to receive an incentive.

6.Supply of incentives. If Microsoft is unable to supply the nominated incentive, Microsoft reserves the right, subject to the written direction of any competent legal authority, to supply another incentive of greater or equal value. For incentives that have a specified validity period, Microsoft and its associated agencies and companies accept no responsibility for your failure to take advantage of the incentive prior to it becoming invalid.

7.Information submitted by you. Information submitted by you will be used to determine eligibility for one or both parts of the promotion, provide fulfilment of the promotion, and for other Microsoft internal business purposes. Except as otherwise described in these terms and conditions, information provided by you will not be shared outside of Microsoft and its subsidiaries and affiliates without your permission.

8.Your participation. You may only participate once in the promotion, and any costs associated with your participation in the promotion is your responsibility. Microsoft may terminate your involvement in the promotion and/or withhold any incentives owing to you under this promotion if it believes, on reasonable grounds, that you have:    a.breached any of these terms and conditions;    b.not complied with the Microsoft Code of Ethics or    c.otherwise infringed Microsoft's copyright or trade marks.

9.Acceptance of these terms and conditions. Your submission of such “proof of execution” as required for Promotion means that you accept and agree to comply with these terms and conditions.




Also attached is this:




HOW TO Utilize Coop*

1.Decide on an offer.

2.Create the graphics (for e-DM or fliers or both) adhering to COOP guidelines which are:    a.Relevant Tag line such as “We recommend genuine Microsoft Office 2007 SBE.”    b.Company’s branding (logo) and contact details (this can just be an email or URL or phone#).    c.30% of content supporting the sale of a fully assembled system preinstalled with genuine MS OEM product(s).

3.Send to your account manager for pre-approval.

4.Your account manager sends to US CORP for official pre-approval # (up to 3 working days)

5.Receive official pre-approval # from CORP.

6.Enter plan in the online tool https://www.microsoftcoop.com/default.aspx

7.Wait for online plan to be approved.

8.Buy give-aways and save your receipts for documentation.

9.Start offer (this date must be AFTER the dates the plan and advert were pre-approved officially by corp).

10.End offer (this date must be AFTER the start date).

11.Enter final claim for activity in online tool (this date must be AFTER the end date of the planned activity where you WILL NEED the following in digital file format to upload:    a.Advert with pre-approval number from Microsoft corporate.    b.Invoice for specific give-aways (the invoice date must be AFTER the dates the plan and advert were pre-approved officially by corporate but before the planned start date.)    c.Digital pictures of the give-away item in your possession.

EXAMPLE FOR CURRENT INCENTIVE OFFER:    - Start Date: 10th Nov 2008    - End Date: 5th Dec 2008    - Offer: “Buy any Vista Home Premium or Ultimate PC with Office 2007 before 5th Dec AND get a free <give-away-item>

* For complete information on how to utilize coop, please reference the Co-Op Partner Guidebook available here: https://www.microsoftcoop.com/aspx/additionalResources_SB.aspx




Attached is also the guidebook [PDF], which is labeled "Microsoft Confidential" (what are they trying to hide?).

For many shops these days, business is rather slow. Microsoft is exploiting pressure and/or greed to increase mind share (perception), as vividly described in the "Effective Evangelism" document which was 'leaked' out of Microsoft during a trial.

Can the ASA be lobbied to deal with Microsoft following allegations of market deception? This clearly distorts and confuses, does it not?

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