11.16.08

Has Microsoft Sent Its Former Employees to Conduct Anti-Google Studies?

Posted in FUD, Google, Microsoft at 11:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Burton Group deja vu

IT IS no secret that Microsoft manipulates figures and muscles analysts to produce so-called ‘studies’, which soon become Microsoft’s marketing material for being favourable to Microsoft (otherwise Microsoft calls it off, despite its own funding). They manufacture informational ammunition that seems independent and thus more credible. This got caught doing this before, so the hypothesis is well-substantiated.

Here is a new and familiar type of ‘study’. It is already cited by all those typical Microsoft fans and boosters, including the Seattle P-I (Microsoft blog).

A study examining the behavior of more than 2,000 Internet users over a six-month period shows that Microsoft Office did not lose any ground to the free Web-based Google Apps.

The study — conducted by ClickStream Technologies — is good news for Microsoft as it prepares to put a version of Office online, which will directly compete with Google’s offering.

How were these 2,000 users selected? Do they represent the global population? We have witnessed some messing about around population studies before.

The study above comes from some small and obscure company which is located in Asia. We did some searching on the Web and this ended up a very short trip. The ‘smoking gun’ was just a few clicks away.

They are not only attending Microsoft summits; look at who “ClickStream Technologies”are: [emphasis ours]

Cameron Turner
CEO and Cofounder

Combining an extensive background in product research, data analysis, program management, and software development, Cameron Turner co-founded ClickStream Technologies in 2003. He developed the patent-pending technologies for data collection deployed by ClickStream while earning an M.B.A. at Oxford University’s Said Business School after spending eight years at Microsoft. He speaks frequently at international conferences on software topics. While at Microsoft, he conducted global market research for five versions of Microsoft Office and also shipped several vertically focused products including a solution for Sarbanes Oxley compliance. Cameron earned a B.A. in Architecture from Dartmouth College and is an active member/speaker with various Bay Area tech groups: Churchill Club, SOFTECH, Young CEOs Club, The CIO Roundtable and BayCHI.

No conflict of interests here, eh? He is not the only former Softie there, either.

Kim Anderson
Senior Research Analyst

A research veteran, Kim brings over 12 years of business management and technology experience to ClickStream Technologies. Kim comes from Microsoft Corporation as a researcher and strategist for the Office product team in Redmond. Previously at Digeo, a Paul Allen start-up, she designed planning, marketing and product requirements for their set-top box and spin-off businesses. Kim graduated from Vanderbilt University with an M.B.A. and holds a B.A. in Mathematics from Saint Mary’s College.

What a splendid illustration of the dangers of having former Microsoft employees spread all over the place to potentially assist their former employer [1, 2, 3].

So, Microsoft will approach managers and present this study (never mind who conducted it and what interests were at play) to warn that Google is not catching on. How familiar a story. Classic.

It is very important to Microsoft now that Google is wooing — with great success in fact — some of Microsoft's biggest customers.

This is not the first situation where Microsoft is seen too close to a company that assaults Google Apps. The Burton Group, a known Microsoft ‘buddy’ [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24], produced an anti-Google Apps study that Microsoft soon referenced. This is how it might work.

Microsoft is not interested in ethics. The example above seems to be taken right out of the ‘handbook’ of Microsoft’s Guerrilla marketing (see the quote at the very bottom), which James Plamondon is said to be writing more extensive literature on these days (yes, he is still at it). In his presentation which he gave to other Microsoft employees he stressed that “Analysts sell out – that’s their business model.” In 2007 he added that “[the] presentation was such a hit with DRG’s management that I gave it in three subsequent internal training sessions at (roughly) six-month intervals. DRG’s management REQUIRED the attendance of all newly-hired evangelists at these presentations, and the attendance & participation of all other evangelists was recommended. The pace of hiring new evangelists then slowed, so it was not necessary to give such internal training sessions thereafter.”

He also added: “The point being that Microsoft recognized that my presentations on evangelism theory, strategy, and tactics — of which only one has been entered into the public record, the others still being massively confidential — were, in fact, the best embodiment of Microsoft’s evangelism “policy” that existed at the time. Else, they would have used some other materials and presenter for new-evangelist training, would they not?”

“Others [presentations are] still being massively confidential,” says James Plamondon. Considering the fact that the leaked document one speaks of “Jihad”, how bad can these other ones be? It’s too easy to be reminded of a remark from an unnamed government delegate, who compared Microsoft's behind-the-scenes affairs to "Scientology cult". How scary is that?

“Working behind the scenes to orchestrate “independent” praise of our technology, and damnation of the enemy’s, is a key evangelism function during the Slog. “Independent” analyst’s report should be issued, praising your technology and damning the competitors (or ignoring them). “Independent” consultants should write columns and articles, give conference presentations and moderate stacked panels, all on our behalf (and setting them up as experts in the new technology, available for just $200/hour). “Independent” academic sources should be cultivated and quoted (and research money granted). “Independent” courseware providers should start profiting from their early involvement in our technology. Every possible source of leverage should be sought and turned to our advantage.”

James Plamondon, Microsoft internal document [PDF]

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3 Comments

  1. twitter said,

    November 16, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    Gravatar

    According to this page, their methodology is terrible:

    From May to November 2008, ClickStream Technologies recruited 2,400 U.S. internet users over the age of 18 to complete a survey and install ClickSight®, a patent-pending data collection tool which records click-level user behavior data across all browsers and applications. In addition, ClickSight® reports on dozens of data points relating to the user’s computer configuration. Over 6 months of click data (more than 350 million user actions) was collected by ClickSight® and segmented by each user’s self-reported survey responses that were collected at the time of recruitment, which included basic demographic information.

    So basically, the study tells you a lot about people who respond to spam and don’t mind installing spyware on their computers. It is no surprise that this select group of computer users also favor M$. The rest of the world is moving in a different direction.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 16, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    Gravatar

    I presume it’s kind of like Alexa then, Windows only as well.

  3. Mandar said,

    November 18, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    Gravatar

    Although your doubts are valid in this regard and it is your opinion that employees “always” work in the best interest of their former employers could be considered borderline stupendous but no less farcical.

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