Bonum Certa Men Certa

Best Buy Has Collusion/Racketeering History with Microsoft, Anti-GNU/Linux Training Comes to Staples Employees Too

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

--Sometimes attributed to Mahatma Gandhi



Summary: A set of rebuttals to Microsoft's hostile actions and reports on some new actions of this type

ALTHOUGH it has been a long weekend in the United States, everyone is talking about the Best Buy incident. Here is a mirror of the original Best Buy post (Photobucket did not serve the images at the most critical moments).

"This isn't the first time Microsoft and Best Buy have colluded in racketeering," remarks Slated, who reminds people of events from 2007:

Best Buy, Microsoft Accused Of Racketeering



When you think RICO you think Al Capone, or maybe Tony Soprano if you watch too much HBO. You don't really think of Best Buy and Microsoft, do you? James Odom does. He's the original plaintiff in a now 4 year old class action lawsuit that just won't go away for Best Buy and Microsoft, one that now includes racketeering charges.

Are they warranted? Maybe. If what Odom says is true, some seriously shady business was going down between MSN and Best Buy—specifically, Odom accuses the store of taking money from Microsoft to sign customers up for accounts with MSN using their credit or debit card numbers without their consent.


For those who did not follow the recent events, Daily Finance has this summary.

Microsoft (MFST) is "indoctrinating" Best Buy (BBY) workers to sell its highly anticipated Windows 7 operating system using outright lies about the performance of open-source competitor Linux, according to Linux experts and at least one Best Buy employee who has seen the alleged Microsoft training slides.


Is it all true? Microsoft is certainly not denying it.

Microsoft has been asked about the memos but has neither confirmed nor denied their legitimacy. However, the material is both consistent with Microsoft's visual style as well as its frequent attempts to discredit Linux as a threat, which in the past have involved paid-for studies that allegedly show Windows as superior to Linux for servers.


Our reader Ryan wrote a good long post on the subject.

There’s a certain demographic that will pay any price because they have lots of money to set on fire. These same people buy Hummer H2’s. The rest spend about a month’s salary every year or two on Microsoft software and partner products under the mistaken impression that they simply have to. They don’t want to, they’re not evil people, they’ve simply been led astray by the sales associate, the lowly peon making $8 an hour at the Best Buy store, the unwitting foot soldier in Microsoft’s propaganda battle. Exactly what’s in it for the sales associate if people continue maxing out their credit cards on shit they don’t need? They may be able to come back to work next Monday, or Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or whenever they’re expected to show up for their 4-8 hours shift so they can continue making the $8 an hour. It’s how retail treats people.


Rami wrote a technical rebuttal to Microsoft's points that are erroneous.

In an effort to thwart Linux sales on netbooks, Microsoft has started a training program at Best Buy to “educate” their “experts” on Linux. And true to their fashion, MS resorted to FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) and straight out LIES! However, Microsoft still maintains that Linux is not a threat to their market, they are just spending all this money to “help” people make an educated decision. Funny thing, is that they ended up promoting Linux.


Another stronger rebuttal (warning needed about language) comes from this blog:

No iPod support? Really? And the Zune doesn't work on the Mac either although there has been some progress from the Linux community. And I've never had any problems pulling pictures from cameras.

I've yet to see a printer that doesn't have a driver. You might have to download it from the products website though (gasp!).

Yeah yeah. Software. Although WINE has been vastly improving lately (we even got around that stupid Secu-ROM).

There are free alternatives to all of the Windows Live "essentials".


A UK perspective from our reader Goblin addresses the problem with similar shops in the UK (Microsoft would not get away with it all in the UK because of the law and the ASA).

“Stupid Customers” say PCworld/Currys staff? & FUD Training for retail?



[...]

The post is from a Best Buy employee who underwent Windows 7 training to sell Windows 7. The author of that post has provided commentary and it shows IMO a very good example of the sales techniques that some use to promote Windows on the net. Many lies are put about Linux on the net and my advice to any interested Linux user is simply to download a Live-CD and try it for yourself.

The danger being though, on the net its harder to tell a salesperson from an “ordinary user”.


Everyone is talking about Best Buy, but it's not just Best Buy where this type of routine is being done. Here is what Staples employees are being exposed to.

I thought I’d post these images of Microsoft’s propaganda they’ve been distributing to Staples employees.

Numerous lies like greater compatibility than GNU/Linux-when most of the older hardware won’t work with MS Windows Vista. GNU/Linux is compatible with more hardware than any operating system in history. It may not work with some of the latest and greatest-but for the most part it works better. I don’t spend 3 hours fiddling with installing my printer drivers. I plug it in- and it just appears as an option in whatever program I need to print with.


"Microsoft has gotten them thinking about all the extra sales they can make," explains Ryan, "selling you the software Windows doesn't come with and "services" like when your Windows PC gets pwned by spyware, they can charge you $75 an hour to fix it. As far as extra software sales, they failed to mention that people like me still buy video games and such with the intention of running them in Wine [...] or MP3 players, because Linux does recognize all of them, except the Zune. [...] Microsoft slipped some Zune "training modules" into the Walmart employee training system. [...] They were hosted on their corporate intranet and the kiosked copy of MSIE was all you could run."

“It looks like they've passed the "ignoring" stage...now they're just fighting...badly.”
      --Wallclimber
Will says that "The best way to handle it would be for the salespeople to be like "Linux, what's that? Never heard of it." The fact that MS is having to train sales people against Linux means that people must be talking about it."

"I agree," says Wallclimber, "they are making way too much noise about it. It makes people more curious. It looks like they've passed the "ignoring" stage...now they're just fighting...badly."

Microsoft is giving itself a reputation of a bully again, helping us all forget about the legendary "new Microsoft".

Will adds: "I'm not sure how to put this, but It still feels a bit odd that MS is simultaneously training people not to sell stuff they don't offer anyway, as well as not to sell stuff they do offer."

I've asked whether going to shops and trying to forbid sales of rivals would be illegal. Ryan raised the "Truth in Advertising" flag, arguing that "they probably word their arguments vaguely enough to get away with it." Will wrote: "Like I saw somewhere (maybe here, maybe /., can't remember), 'Does BMW send stuff to train other car dealers not to sell GM, Chrysler, what-have-you?' [...] BMW relies on its reputation to sell stuff. Apple does the cute ads, but in general they expect people to come to them. MS doesn't have that kind of reputation or rapport."

Microsoft is resorting to similar practices elsewhere, as noted by one of the regular contributors of ZDNet UK here:

MS-BS Quotient Off the top of the Charts.

Those numbers touting an 11 second boot time are from HIBERNATION files. Not from a cold start. As a result, they are total crap. I did my own "tests" on Win 7.


The reality behind Vista 7 proves that there is a lot of false advertising. On top of that, in order to suppress GNU/Linux use in sub-notebooks, as well as sub-notebooks as a whole, Microsoft pressures OEMs. It is about the sub-notebooks market. It's just too troubling to Microsoft's profitability.

With limitations on hardware and pressure on OEMs, Microsoft is able to eliminate low-end machines, which in turn harms consumer choice. Where are those $199 sub-notebooks these days? As pointed out here, gaps were blurred such that Microsoft can restore margins.

Can we all agree on something? There's no longer a difference between a netbook and a notebook. Thanks to netbooks' move to more features and larger-size screens, the distinction between the two can now be considered little more than marketing speak.


It is sad to see a software company (but also Intel) telling OEMs how to sell computers; it should be the other way around, but there is no monopoly in OEMs, so Microsoft can discriminate and 'punish' those who do not obey demands.

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