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FUD Warning: The Windows Vista 'Fire-Fighting Squad' Goes Loose Again

Can't believe what you read in the press

We warned about this a couple of weeks back, the context being Yankee Group FUD, but it's worth repeating and presenting this alongside some more material and background, as well as new supportive stories.

“By Microsoft's own confession, "analysts sell out" because "it's their business model."”At this very moment, the press is once again getting filled with suggestions that migrations to Windows Vista are "inevitable" (hyperlinks omitted on purpose, but a quick search on "Forrester Vista" might get you started). Remember the "buy Vista or die" article (tactics that are based on fear)? It's an attempt to fulfill a prophecy, which gets echoed by more than one major analyst. They validate each others' claims in a suck-puppet-like fashion, as was witnessed many times before (the illusion of a peer-condoning crowd). It typically occurs in bursts of releases, fueled by public relations agencies that push out the promotional messages manufactured by analysts.

As some readers may or may not know, IDC is working closely with Microsoft, but it's only one among this authority of the "Big Five" (5 or thereabouts) who comment on the area of desktop/enterprise/server computing -- as oppose to say -- devices, embedded devices, programming or hardware performance. They earned a status which is undeserved (or been corrupted once they earned it) and they are quoted widely in the media and trade journals despite the fact that their business model relies on corporate investments, commissioned studies and invited talks (to promote the agenda of one company or another). By Microsoft's own confession, "analysts sell out" because "it's their business model." Microsoft has always sought to exploit this.

As far as Windows Vista goes, the deception continues. It hardly matters if Steve Ballmer tactlessly called it "work in progress" 15 months after its release and Bill Gates acknowledged the problem. The marketing machine shows no signs of weakness and cannot afford any rest. It's a game of perception-shaping. To give a quick example from Glyn Moody, this one was published a couple of months before the Novell/Microsoft deal. It talks about Vista just months before its overly-hyped release.

Microsoft's Masterpiece of FUD



I've been tracking the evolution of Microsoft FUD for nearly 10 years now, and wrote a short history of the subject a few months back. But even I was impressed when I came across Microsoft's latest effort in this department: it's truly a masterpiece of its kind.

Whereas previous FUDs have revolved around details like the relative speed, price and legality of free software compared with Microsoft's own code, its most recent offering takes a different tack, and purports to look at the bigger picture.

It's a white paper from IDC, "sponsored" by Microsoft, on "The Economic Impact of Microsoft Windows Vista". But this is not some abstract ivory-tower analysis: on the contrary, it is highly targeted, and aimed at a very particular audience - the European Commission - that is proving to be annoyingly unaccommodating when it comes to letting Microsoft have its monopolistic way. Not content with slapping some juicy fines on the company for past misdemeanors, the European Commission is now starting to make unfriendly noises about the forthcoming Windows Vista.


With increasing scrutiny and threats in Europe (maybe even an embargo for repeated and systematic unacceptable behaviour), it's interesting to look back not only at the role of lobbying arms and faithful (as in "bought") politicians, but also at the role of analysts.

Now that Microsoft is being fined regularly for failure to comply it's rather interesting to find what Rob Enderle, notorious for his role as a Microsoft shill, said over a decade ago. Here is just the rebuttal to it:

It is probably difficult for Microsoft critics to find themselves agreeing with somebody like Mike Maples, but in this case Mr. Maples is correct. Rob Enderle needs to consider just how ineffective "monitoring" of Saddam Hussein has been. The idea of "monitoring" leaves the perpetrator's power intact. Empirically, that doesn't seem to work very well. If the only thing the power can be used for is to violate agreements or laws, failing to destroy that power is asking for trouble. The best way to prevent Hussein's repeated misuse of his power is to get rid of that power, not to "monitor" it. And the best way to prevent Microsoft's misuse of monopoly power is to get rid of the monopoly, because under U.S. law there is not really anything you can do with your monopoly power that is legal. Furthermore, proponents of a monitoring solution are failing to do anything to address two root causes of the problem: the power to violate the law still exists, and the will to exploit that power still exists. If either of those two things did not still exist, there would be no need for the monitoring.


Why was Rob Enderle worthy of being refuted anyway? Is it not yet known (or was it not known at the time) what vested interests he has? Enderle is nowadays attending cocktail parties in Redmond (drinking the Kool-Aid from his client, almost literally), as reported very recently by Mr. Perlow.

"In the face of strong competition, Evangelism's focus may shift immediately to the next version of the same technology, however. Indeed, Phase 1 (Evangelism Starts) for version x+1 may start as soon as this Final Release of version X."

--Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

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