03.21.10

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The Vanishing of Microsoft’s Misconduct (Bribes)

Posted in Fraud, Microsoft at 5:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Explanation

Summary: Resurrection of a dead article about Microsoft corrupting academia

TWO years ago we mentioned an article about Microsoft bribing professors. The article has vanished since then, but there is a copy of it in the Web Archive (2008 is the last snapshot). It is a shame that evidence of Microsoft crimes will definitely vanish over time. In the interests of preserving history, we add the article below. It was published by The Chronicle.

Microsoft Pays $200 for Mentioning Its Tools

By LISA GUERNSEY

The software king has a deal for you.

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.

The company extends the offer on a World-Wide Web page for the “Academic Cooperative,” a Microsoft program

for computer- science professors. The Web site is maintained through Idaho State University (http://academicoop.isu.edu /Colleges/ FacultySpeakers Program.html).

Microsoft officials say the speakers’ bureau, as it is called, is a well-intentioned effort to help faculty members cover their conference costs. Ethics watchdogs call it an unabashed attempt to turn professors into advertisers.

Microsoft is “trying to make them advertising agents of their wares,” says Albert Borgman, a philosophy professor at the University of Montana at Missoula who has written about technology and its effect on society. “This is going beyond the pale.”

That interpretation ruffles Susanne Peterson, who directs the Academic Cooperative. “These people are already talking about Microsoft products,” she says. “Sometimes they are not even talking about our tools — they are just using our tools.”

“This is very innocent,” she says. “Two hundred dollars is puny.”

But it’s not so puny to professors who “don’t get stock options,” as one program participant put it.

“We’re so strapped, we don’t look a gift horse in the mouth,” says Jesse Heines, a computer-science professor at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. Mr. Heines, who recently gave a presentation that mentioned Microsoft products, has applied for the $200 payment. He is one of fewer than a dozen professors who have joined the speakers’ bureau. Most professors don’t know about it.

A few professors who have sought the company’s money agreed to be interviewed. Some have already given their presentations; others have not. All of them said they thanked Microsoft for its support during their presentations — or that they will do so — without specifically mentioning the $200.

That omission raises questions, says Bill Moninger, a government scientist who has taught courses on technology and ethics at the University of Colorado at Boulder. “Those who, while making their speeches, didn’t say, ‘I just got $200 for saying that,’ are unethical,” he declares. Audience members, he says, have the right to know when an apparently independent speaker is being paid to mention a particular company.

But George Whitson, a computer-science professor at the University of Texas at Tyler who has applied for $200 from Microsoft for a presentation next month, defends the speakers’ bureau as “more open and honest” than other perks that companies provide to professors use their technology.

“Does anyone seriously think,” he asks, “that a researcher would compromise his integrity for $200?”

Since then we have shown how Microsoft bullies professors who stand in its ways.

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