Bonum Certa Men Certa

The World According to ZDNet: Vista 7 a Whole Area of IT

...or just paid placement? You can be the judge.



Summary: ZDNet UK puts up Microsoft-endorsing elements in 'news' pages and nukes comments that expose Microsoft's PR department, Waggener Edstrom

THE MONOPOLIST from Redmond loves injecting trademarks into people's consciousness. We already know that Microsoft was 'incentivising' hundreds of Korean bloggers to write a lot about Vista 7 . That's just one example among others for which there is ample evidence.



The screenshot at the top (annotated) helps show circumstantial evidence which may suggest there is a paid endorsement in the editorial part of ZDNet UK. What is "Windows 7" doing there? It is totally out of place, sitting there among actual areas of IT. "Windows 7" is not "Windows" or even "Microsoft". Why is this a whole category? This seemed suspicious, so I raised this question while they tried to silence me for posting politely my opinions in ZDNet UK (they also threatened to remove my account, even though I did nothing wrong, as people can judge by comments I reproduced and see for themselves).

My question, which was not deleted by the way, sought to discover whether the site's marketing side was affecting editorial sections without disclosures. There is no need to be inflammatory about it and I was very polite. I also pointed out that ZDNet's Twitter account is summarised as "All the latest business technology news, covering security, mobile, Microsoft and much more" (Microsoft is the only trademark mentioned). It's basically the same pattern as the above. Microsoft is the only trademark to be mentioned by what claims to be a technology site. Here is what I wrote to ZDNet:

Upon closer inspection, this gets even more interesting. I see that the said twitter account follows 33 people and also an account called "(http://twitter.com/)/ZDNetUK_Win7". I notice that alongside menu items at the top of *all* pages in ZDNet UK there is an oddly out-of-place section called "Windows 7" (and again, it's the only brand mentioned). I clicked on and it's purely promotional therein. It says: "ZDNet UK's special report covers a range of content, including reviews, articles and videos, to help you discover the key features in Microsoft's latest operating system, as well as the pitfalls you should be looking out for."


But more interestingly, all comments that mention Microsoft's PR department, known as Waggener Edstrom, were removed. When one wants to do paid Microsoft endorsement, it's natural to go through Waggener Edstrom. Microsoft.com refers such queries to Waggener Edstrom.

What was conspicuous to me was that ZDNet became extremely panicky and very defensive of this firm, whose named was removed along with all comments that even mentioned it. In fact, the response from ZDNet (which came late, around the time we complained about censorship) only dealt with the Waggener Edstrom claims, not rebutting the remaining evidence but instead throwing everything away by just using Waggener Edstrom as an excuse (it was not even mentioned in all the comments).

"The claims about ZDNet UK were not removed, just the ones about Waggener Edstrom. What is this irrational fear of criticising Waggener Edstrom?"We do know that Waggener Edstrom was pressuring British publications like The Inquirer to change their coverage. The Inquirer wrote about it. Is ZDNet fearful of criticising Waggener Edstrom? And if so, why? It's just Microsoft's marketing department. Why is this such a sensitive subject?

We only encourage people to explore this and to take these questions further. Where there is smoke there is often fire.

Look again at the deleted comments, in particular Comment #6 and Comment #7. Both of these are the ones which mentioned Waggener Edstrom. None of the 7 comments were deleted until comments #6 and #7 got posted; it's as though we blew a dog whistle and the E-mail response to us further validates such a theory because it only defended Waggener Edstrom and ignored all the remaining evidence. Is a sacred cow the trigger? Watch the response from ZDNet: "In addition, they make unsubstantiated harmful suggestions about companies - about ZDNet UK, for example. Some of these comments may place this site at legal risk," said Karen Friar only after I had mentioned Waggener Edstrom (and their name got wiped off the page). I did provide links, e.g. documents from Comes vs Microsoft, to support my claims. Karen ignored this court exhibit. The claims about ZDNet UK were not removed, just the ones about Waggener Edstrom. What is this irrational fear of criticising Waggener Edstrom?

To summarise, we would like to leave an open question: what is the relationship -- if any -- between Waggener Edstrom and ZDNet? I sent ZDNet's editorial team this question. Even though they did write to us before, to this question they did not reply. It has been 2 days, so we assume that "no comment" is their stance. The top of all Web page in the site (which possibly reaches a million per day) is still an endorsement of "Windows 7". It validates the product in a strange context.

"In honor of the event, Pam Edstrom, who had since left Microsoft to cofound her own agency, Waggener Edstrom, and handle Microsoft's PR from the outside, sponsored a "Windows Roast." Gathered at the Alexis Park Resort in Las Vegas, Gates and Ballmer made fun of themselves and not so subtly apologized for the Windows delays. "To Dream the Impossible Dream" was the theme song playing in the background. With three hundred analysts and members of the press invited to these festivities where Gates and Ballmer let it all hang out, it was another coup for "Gates's Keeper." Gates joked that Ballmer had insisted, " 'We just gotta cut features.' He came up with this idea that we could rename this thing Microsoft Window—and we would have shipped that thing a long time ago."

--Barbarians Led by Bill Gates, a book composed
by Pam's daughter

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