Why Microsoft Is Resorting to Bribery

The big furor over the New Year weekend has been Microsoft giving away free Vista loaded laptops to an A-list of bloggersreportedly 90; but I have yet to find a definitive list. However, this”PR” move is tacitly strange given that:
a)The machines clearly define Vista as bloated.Bloggers were given 2GHz dual core AMD processors, 2GB of memory, AMD/ATI Radeon 1600 cards and 160GB drives as their test vehicle. According to Microsoft, “the laptops allow the bloggers to experience the full capacity of Windows Vista”. What about us 512MB, 1.6Ghz, 60GB drive users of Windows XP ???
b)Given that the bloggers were given “do what ever your judgement dictates” mandate – this would appear to absolve the bloggers from adhering to Vistas(and most other Microsoft software) EULA restrictions on benchmarking and commenting on Vista without Microsofts approval. So there is a ground swell of calls on the various anointed blogsites commentary (including here) for the bloggers to do a dual boot, install Linux 64-bit and compare desktop Vista 64-bit with desktop Linux 64 bit. This would be a most informative review – and if Microsoft intervenes and says no – well they have cut their own throats.
c)This could be construed as a desperation ploy to get positive print on Vista. Given the very cautious, almost too tepid pronouncements on Vista from the trade press and analysts as diverse as eWeak and Gartner, Microsoft is trying to generate some momentum for the consumer launch of Vista at the end of January.

I suspect the latter c) is the raison detre for the campaign and Linux-watch seems to confirm that with its anatomy on a PR campaign going seriously awry. Microsoft always tries to generate as much positive sentiment and momentum as possible for a product at launch. And the problem is that so far Vista has gotten lukewarm reviews from the major media. But even more alarming, the second line of defense – the Microsoft-leaning websites have been even more harsh on Vista. Read the following:

Paul Thurrotts Supersite for Windows:
The conclusion says 4/5 but the meat of the review says 3/5 at best.

Joel Spolsky at Joel on Software:
Today, Fog Creek Software pays the Peer 1 bills. I declined the Microsoft offer and bought my own fully-loaded Dell laptop (a D620) to try out Vista. My conclusions:
1. Do not, under any circumstances, consider upgrading an XP system to Vista… even if its fairly new and even if its Vista Supremo Premium Ultra-Capable.
2. When you get a new computer, if it comes with Vista pre-installed, thats when youll upgrade.
3. Dont buy a new computer now just to get Vista. If your current system meets your needs, stick with it until you really need a new system. Vista is not reason enough for a new PC.
4. Need more details? Read Paul Thurrotts review.

Ken Hutchinson at ArsTechnica assesses Vintage Vista: running Microsofts newest OS on your older hardware
Kens conclusion is proof that on 2006 Thinkpads with 1GB of memory and huge hard drives … Vista is barely manageable.

In short, the second tier is warning more clearly of the problems that the first tier media and analysts are still being coy about. So it appears Microsoft needed to generate positive vibrations – and so they have “gifted” the A-list bloggers. Now if those bloggers have the guts and gumption I suspect they have, they will take the PR carte blanche/dispensation and compare Vista-64bit with Linux 64-bit – and let the facts fall where they may – and report on it. And if they dont the CNETs, eWeeks, Infoworlds, ITPros, Computerworlds have the format for a Thrilla in Manila review which they could use to shore up their declining readership.


(c)JBSurveyer 2006
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