Bonum Certa Men Certa

Shane O'Neill Meets Steve Ballmer, Constantly Attacks GNU/Linux from IDG

Advisory notice



Summary: Studying the motives of an IDG pundit who attacks GNU/Linux quite frequently these days

THIS POST IS WELL OVERDUE as it addresses an issue that we've been seeing for a long while and also discussed in the IRC channel. IDG/IDC, which has financial ties with Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], has not just been ignoring GNU/Linux; lately it has been publicly defaming it and the people responsible for it are usually the same.

While IDG writers like Preston Gralla openly seem like some sort of Rob Enderle wannabes, there is another such person called Shane O'Neill, who typically writes in CIO (although it spreads to other IDG Web sites). To give just a sample of his very latest output, there is this. Another brand-new example is this one, which bears the message of a defeat for GNU/Linux. These are just part of an ongoing pattern and some further work can piece together older evidence too. It's easy to find and there is hardly any contrary evidence.

About the Claims



To falsify O'Neill's claims directly, the Microsoft talking points [1, 2] are are relying on NPD data (see Microsoft bias) which corresponds to US-only figures (but conveniently enough they don't state this). It therefore refers only to part of the whole picture and they use the same technique to deceive about Zune, XBox, and Vista. GNU/Linux sub-notebooks are big in other parts of the world, despite the fact that there is pressure/collusion with OEMs.

As always, this brigade against GNU/Linux is trying to declare a defeat for GNU/Linux by playing the black art of statistics whilst Microsoft is dumping software almost free of charge. This was mentioned in a comment last night. Also, over the weekend SJVN explained what was happening here from a business perspective.

Microsoft is now hanging on to their desktop market-share and gained netbook market-share because they re-released XP Home, but it's a Pyrrhic victory. The reason XP Home is so popular on netbooks isn't that it's better than Linux, it's because Microsoft is essentially giving XP Home away to netbook vendors. Microsoft can't afford to keep giving away its products, so XP needs to die as fast as possible so they can start selling users on Windows 7.


For reasons that we wrote about before, Vista 7 is bound to change nothing for the better and here is another short post about the subject.

So, your Win7 netbook will have to be fat enough to carry the full bloat of Windows 7, but Microsoft will simply block most of it from working. And limit you to three applications. If you're like me, you keep your web browser and email open constantly, so that really means you can run only one application at a time. Did they learn nothing from the "Vista Capable" fiasco?

Of course, Microsoft wants your netbook experience to be miserable, so they can stick you for upgrade fees. It's classic "bait and switch" marketing. You buy the netbook in the store because it looks cool and has a low price, get it home, and find out it's nearly useless. What are you going to do? Throw it away, or shell out another few hundred so that your purchase doesn't become an embarassing doorstop?


So that's just addressing the message. But the messenger is no angel, either.

About the Bias



Shane O'Neill is no ordinary writer. It's almost like a PR agent for Microsoft, but he is placed inside IDG. He wrote dozens of articles so far this year, systematically belittling GNU/Linux and glorifying Microsoft like a marketing machine. The convictions have been consistent.

One thing most readers will not know is this: He met Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer around the time of the company's latest deal with EMC [1, 2, 3], which means that he is among those who are privileged enough to have 'access' to the company. It is an indication of intimacy.

“He met Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer around the time of the company's latest deal with EMC...”Mary Jo Foley told me last year about Microsoft's system of keeping 'score' with journalists using rewards and punishments; this impacts one's ability to have Microsoft deny or provide access to people like Gates and Ballmer. This is why CNET's Ina Fried, for example, gets access to Ballmer every year. S/he's sucking up to Microsoft all the time, unlike some peers. The assignment of 'buddies' to journalists is another fascinating inside story and it seems likely to involve outsourced marketers (proxies) like Waggener Edstrom [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10] which Microsoft hires for the job of 'escorting' journalists and 'helping' them (not necessarily ghostwriting, but pushing input habitually). By 'helping' we refer not to something necessarily positive based on what we learned.

To put it briefly, what we find in Shane O'Neill is that he is close to Steve Ballmer and he is attacking GNU/Linux in IDG, even though it's highly likely that he never even used the operating system. To him, it is a matter of faith and the writing reflects on this faith. IDG has many sites like NetworkWorld, PCWorld and CIO, so it's a shame that they blindly publish incorrect assertions. These are nothing but the infamous Microsoft talking points, which are not correct, unless one accepts the skewed/incomplete statistics.

There is another way of looking at it. Since Shane O'Neill does almost nothing these days but boost Microsoft and attack GNU/Linux, then it means GNU/Linux is indeed the #1 threat Ballmer claims it to be. If GNU/Linux is not a threat, then why does he keep attacking it? And having met Ballmer last month, it is curious to see how he attacks GNU/Linux like a motor, basing hypothesis on desire and then finding sources that concur and align with it.

New York Microsoft Times



Speaking of poor journalism, IDG is not alone. Some time ago we accused The New York Times of pushing Microsoft revisionism, which is not particularly shocking given the Microsoft connection. There is a new article in Reuters right now, whose headline is "Ballmer: Definitely 'No' on buying The New York Times." Well, what? Was it ever considered?

On Thursday morning in Manhattan, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer spelled out his complete disinterest in acquiring the debt-saddled New York Times Company. "No," Ballmer replied to a reporter's question about the Times outside the McGraw-Hill building, where he was a featured speaker at the 2009 BusinessWeek Media Summit.


The New York Times serves Microsoft better when it appears independent. Needless the say, the same goes for analysts and we gave an example last week. Here are Microsoft's very own notes on how to exploit journalists.

Microsoft dirty tactics

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