Microsoft hands out Ferrari’s to bloggers

Free Acer Ferrari 5000 from Microsoft

Microsoft together with AMD gave out some timely Christmas presents (which are officially review PCs) to a bunch of bloggers this year. Brandon LeBlanc got one, Scott Beale got one, Mauricio Freitas got one, Mitch Denny got one, Zen.Heavengames got one, Barb Bowman got a media center, plus many other bloggers who has yet to receive it during the Christmas rush. They seem to have covered everyone from A-list to Z-list, a first in the industry with such a valuable gift, kudos for thinking about the little guys.

Some people got Ferrari 1000s, others got 5000s (Some got Media Centers even). The following specs are from the Ferrari 5000.

The machine looks just as good as it specs. As part of Acer’s Ferrari designer computing range, the carbon-fiber case is styled with a slick threaded finish with genuine Ferrari badging and color strips. Just like the racing counterpart, this machine has grunt. It sports an AMD Turion 64 X2 dual-core 2ghz CPU, 2GB of DDR2-667 RAM, AMD-ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 on a 15.4″ widescreen. It also has a 160GB SATA drive, HD-DVD reader and burner as well as a 1.3mp camera. Full specifications available at the Acer website.

Assuming it doesn’t use Sony batteries, this laptop blows everything out of the water. It retails for a hot $2,299. But if you write about Microsoft, they might even give you one for free. Is it ethical? Probably not. Is it worth something to hard-working sweat and tears bloggers? Hell yeah.

I don’t see the Free Software Foundation handing out any Ferrari’s. :P

Update: Robert Scoble also picked up the story, comparing this to PayPerPost. Although I think PayPerPost is about profiting, whilst this is about rewarding. Even though the outcome might be the same.

Update 2: Dan Warne from APCMag has a different perspective on this issue, he thinks this is highly inappropriate and immoral. Could this act of generosity turn upside-down into a PR disaster?

Update 3: Just something for everyone to keep in mind. Remember bloggers are given a choice which includes giving the machine back when they’re done with it. Keeping the unit is a decision made solely by the bloggers receiving the computers.

Update 4: Looks like I’ve stirred up the waters a bit, so here’s some of my opinions and clarifcations.

  • Slashdot has labelled this a “bribe”. However unlike what they have claimed, these were not gifts. As it may happen to coincide with Christmas, it is important to note Windows Vista is launching in 30 days. It is nothing more than just good timing and coincidence.

    I, however, wrote these as “Christmas presents”, only because it happens to coincide with Christmas. Officially, these were review PCs with the the options at upon completion of review to either send back to Microsoft, give away or keep indefinitely. This choice is solely at the discretion of bloggers.

  • Some people have accused my good friend Brandon LeBlanc of accepting the Ferrari without disclosure. Whilst it is true he did not disclose he received the machine from Microsoft in his original post, he had always intenteded to disclose in his review article in the near future. I think nothing less if not more of him for admitting his mistake.

    Bloggers like Brandon put a lot of hard work into their blogs and most of the time receive little or no reimbursement for their highly valuable work. I wouldn’t think it would be inappropriate at all, in fact only fair that these bloggers deserve to keep these machines as ‘rewards’.

  • I, myself, am receiving a machine also. It hasn’t arrived yet, possibly Friday. Unlike what Tech.Blorge quotes, it is not a Ferrari, but is apparently a Velocity Micro Media Center PC.

    I intend to accept it, open it, and drool at it. Without having a TV or monitor with me, it would be kind of hard for me to use it. As David Flynn suggested, I’m considering giving it away through a contest or charity auction. But I’m also in need of an upgrade, so don’t bet on it.

  • Aaron Coldiron, who was responsible for handling these machines at Microsoft, responds in a comment below.

Update 5: These machines were sent for review and reviewed they shall. Brandon LeBlanc is one of the first with an actual review of the machine (Ferrari 5000). It’s a beast without the beasty size.

Update 6: Mitch Denny (who received a Ferrari 1000 and disclosed it) has posted an excellent excellent post collecting all of the discussions including articles from both sides of the fence on this topic.

Update 8: Journalist writer and blogger Ed Bott thinks the whole moral debate is unnecessary. “Everyone in the community wins when that person gets the chance to play with new technology.” He got a Ferrari 5000, and might auction it off for charity.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by no one. Because no one cares about Long.

292 insightful thoughts

  1. Paul probably got something, but hasn’t written anything about it.

    I’m getting something, it’s coming Friday. I don’t know what it is yet.

  2. @Mat: I hope not. It might be a Media Center PC, which would kind of suck since I have no TV or external display set with me.

  3. Jeez,I’d love ot see those cheep Asses at Apple give a few Macbook pros out to some Bloggers pro or con, just for writing something about Apple.

  4. Geezus, this reeks of “crossing the line” to me. It’s fair game for Microsoft to give away all the free software for review purposes it wants. It’s also fair enough to cover the travel and accommodation costs of journalists attending its promotional events and conferences.

    But giving away whole computers? Microsoft isn’t a computer company! It’s a bit like the owner of a motorway giving journalists free cars.

    And Long — on your comment “PayPerPost is about profiting, whilst this is about rewarding” — don’t you think that Microsoft has rather a lot to gain from the ongoing goodwill of all these bloggers? Isn’t the timing rather curious — right before the consumer launch of Vista?

    Microsoft’s PR people would no doubt argue that this is about giving bloggers access to a machine that’s going to give them the best experience running Vista, and will allow them to fully explore the mobility features of Vista. But frankly, if that were the case, the machines could have been a six month loan. -Giving- the machine to the bloggers is just … weird … given the risk of reputation damage to Microsoft.

    Sure, Microsoft will probably argue that the gift of the laptop wasn’t from them; it was from AMD. But really, that’s playing with semantics — would AMD have volunteered to give this machine if Microsoft hadn’t set the whole deal up?

    At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter. This is a PR disaster for Microsoft. Within a few days it’ll be in every newspaper and tech publication in the world; I guarantee it.

    It’s bizarre for one of the world’s largest PR companies, Edelman, to think it could get away with this. Perhaps they don’t know bloggers as well as they thought they did. As you’ve pointed out, Long, now that some of the bloggers have disclosed the receipt of the gift, the public knows. Whatever the subtleties of the offer were, it comes across as nothing more than a bribe, and that is a very bad look for Microsoft.

    Fortunately I’m confident the Australian PR people for Microsoft won’t try this. I have dealt with the key PR managers in AU for some time and they are very principled. If this were mooted internally at Microsoft I’m certain it would be shut it down pronto (frankly, it should have been shut down pronto in the US too, but evidently there’s been a systemic failure with whole teams of people forgetting to take their morning dose of common sense.)

    Dan Warne, News Editor, APC, http://apcmag.com

  5. Any blogger with pretensions of being considered an independent voice and a ‘professional’ in their field or even their attitude, not to mention a sense of ethics, should be returning this ‘gift’ laptop to Microsoft.

    On the other hand, any blogger who decides it’s not just acceptable but “cool, gee, thanks!” for Microsoft to give them a free PC worth several thousands of dollars, may as well resign themselves to losing most of their credibility, at least when it comes to commentary on Microsoft and perhaps well beyond that (if readers start to ask themselves “I wonder what ~else~ so-and-so gets for free but doesn’t tell us about?”.

  6. Is Dan Warne just pissed that he didn’t get a laptop, too? As long as the gift is disclosed publicly, then what difference does it make? Yes, if you accept the gift, don’t disclose, and then start blogging nice things, you’re clearly a sellout, and if you are found out, people will not trust what you write. But if you clearly disclose the gift, just as journalists often disclose that they attended such-and-such event as the guest of XYZ company, what in heaven’s name is the difference? Sorry, Dan – sounds like your just annoyed that you weren’t important enough to get a free laptop. As for Microsoft not being a computer company, what’s an Xbox? Just a DVD player or something? I think you’ll find it’s a whole lotta computer in that there box, even if its primary purpose is to play games.

  7. i honestly don’t think any of the people you listed can be bribed. drew baron got one, and i do believe that if he thinks vista sucks, he’s going to say so. that’s a risk that pr firms never take. i think its ballsy.

  8. Fred — I’m not pissed off that I didn’t get offered a free laptop. As the longest-running PC mag in Australia (25 years), we can get review loans of any hardware we’d like to review. So should bloggers be able to.

    Despite Long’s link to my post on the front page saying that I think it’s immoral, I’m not really moralising over this issue actually. Spin doctoring and professional seduction is part of the modern world. I’m just observing that it’s a bizarre PR strategy to take, because of the risk of reputation damage to Microsoft.

    Most ordinary members of the public would be pretty irritated to know that the people they trust to provide news, opinion and reviews are being provided with valuable personal gifts from one of the key companies they’re writing about.

    You’re quite right — full disclosure of the gift significantly mitigates the risk that readers will feel deceived. But it’s still terrible publicity for Microsoft for it to be known out there that it’s buttering up ‘tech community influencers’ with big-ticket gifts.

    (And on your point about the Xbox… I have to admit I wouldn’t really care that much if Microsoft sent out Xboxen to journalists as gifts; they’re pretty low value, and as you point out, Microsoft makes them.
    But $2299 computers that have nothing to do with them..?)

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  10. C’mon guys… Get over yourselfs. In every type of business free items are given to the taste makers of that genre. How many football players do you think get free leases to luxury cars from dealerships? How many celebrities actually have to pay tabs at the hottest clubs? Bloggers happen to be the taste makers du jour.

    So guess what? Some people got a free laptop. That laptop is made for Windows Vista to run with its best performance. They want you to have the best experience. Disclose it and write about it. If not send it back. I am sure Bill wont mind. Write about it when it blue screens… I dare you. The special police wont be showing up at your house.

    I can only imagine the thread hate if they hadn’t sent hardware (what am I supposed to do with this DVD?) or what if the hardware was too small (I can’t believe MS sent out Vista on $150 laptops).

  11. Look at it from a business sense. Does MS have a department that is responsible for maintaining loaner gear, recovery, and customer support? Doubtful. These laptops only cost $2300, that’s a drop in the bucket to a company like MS. Had they contracted with a third party rental company (if anyone would even be willing to ‘rent’ a laptop) they would have likely paid close to that same value over the life of the lease (depreciation is a b!tch on laptops).

    So some PR guy looked at the numbers. For $18k they could lease a couple laptops and send them out to bloggers and worry about recovery later, or for $20k they could just buy the laptops and send them out with no ongoing commitment. I would say using that ‘Done’ stamp on the project is probably worth $2k.

    -Rick

  12. “I don’t see the Free Software Foundation handing out any Ferrari’s. :P”

    Then again, the Free Software Foundation is handing out lots and lots of great software. I don’t see Microsoft doing that just yet.

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  14. Hmmm.

    Bloggers are bloggers (read not-journalists) as long as they espouse their freedom, independance and free-thinking punditry as they floating way above the concerns of filthy lucre and beholden-ness to corpy paymasters…..

    Or is it “Bloggers are nothing more than unpaid wannabe journalists” when they publish opinions, random thoughts and then are forced to or voluntarily take a position on anything whatsoever as long as they cleave to some self-delcared arbitrary cant about morality, ethiks etc?

    Or is this non-event simply the politics of envy from some bloggers that didn’t get the free kit from Redmond?

    All of the above and more I suspect. Declaring you have a high road when you know who you are crawling into bed with and excusing it all by making an ironic wink is arrant nonsense – a whore is a whore. Bought and paid for.

    Move on, move on – nothing more to see or ever read here anymore.

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  16. All,

    Let me take a minute to respond to some of these comments. Yes, Windows Vista and AMD sent out review computers to bloggers. Why? Because we believe in the power of community, we believe in our product, and we are partnering with AMD to give bloggers the best hardware experience we can.

    I understand the concerns on ethics, and I share them. We have been up front that these are review pcs, and we encourage bloggers to disclose that. Here’s the language we used in the review outreach:

    “Full disclosure – while I hope you will blog about your experience with the pc, you don’t have to. Also, you are welcome to send the machine back to us after you are done playing with it, or you can give it away on your site, or you can keep it. My recommendation is that you give it away on your site.”

    I hope this information helps. We want to be fully transparent about what we are doing here.

    Aaron Coldiron, Windows Vista

  17. So just out of curiosity has any blogger out there seen what these things do when a Linux based distribution is put in charge of it ;)

  18. Update 3: Just something for everyone to keep in mind. Remember bloggers are given a choice which includes giving the machine back when they’re done with it. Keeping the unit is a decision made solely by the bloggers receiving the computers.

    Sorry, but that’s a ridiculous argument. Sounds like giving a wad of cash to a copper [wink, wink], asking them to check if they are fakes, and then leaving it up to them to decide to either keep them for personal use or hand them back – and then say that it was not a case of bribing a police officer.

  19. This is a non-issue from an ethical standpoint.

    It MAY influence the blogger’s opinion of Microsoft (and AMD, and Acer) in a positive sense (or, if the experience backfires, in a negative sense).

    It MAY influence how people think of the blog. For instance, if _THAT_PARTICULAR_ blog claims to be independent, and look at all news with equal treatment, then accepting the gift can undermine the values of the blog. It’s a good thing, however, that bloggers don’t, by and large, have that definition – professional journalists employed by large periodical companies do.

    If that particular blogger is upset, they can return the laptop to Microsoft. No harm, no foul.

    The campaign is an interesting one, and something I’d like to see more of in marketing. Microsoft recommends that bloggers give away the machines (see Aaron’s comment above). First of all, this gives pro-Microsoft influential bloggers a good experience with the machine (excellent hardware, controlled software experience – no OEM nastiness), which is likely to increase press. Second, it creates a community of people bound together by having received a laptop (encouraging a pro-Microsoft ‘bloc’). And third, giving the laptop away is likely to increase traffic to the blog, making the blog more influential overall.

    It’s an idea which benefits all sides: Microsoft, with good PR; the bloggers, with free hardware and more influence; readers, with good sources of information about running Vista on a nice laptop.

    The campaign MAY backlash against Microsoft in terms of bribery; but honestly, that really depends on what news source writes an article about it. If the people running the campaign were halfway competant, they would have considered that (and sent out PR notes to periodicals about the campaign).

  20. I think that if it’s disclosed, and the blogger continues to write, his bias will become pretty clear and whatever change he makes will be clear too.

    Many, many years ago, I ran an anti-Microsoft web site and Microsoft contacted me and sent me Windows NT 4.0. It was less bad than Windows95, but it didn’t change my opinion and my site remained as it was. They just told me that they wanted me to have their latest stuff, so that I could write honestly about it. I respeted that.

    Truthfully, I think Microsoft did this to solve a curious little problem. Most bloggers aren’t rich, and they’re going to try and run Windows Vista on a computer that can barely run XP. So give them a gift, so they can run Vista the way it was meant to be run.

    I think most bloggers are not going to be influenced by the gifts per se, but they will be nicer about Vista since they have a machine on which it will run well.

    I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, fair or unfair. But truthfully, I think there’s enough information about Vista’s performance out there for people to be able to make up their own minds, and so Microsoft’s efforts will have little genuine impact.

    I’m glad the bloggers will at least get some cool free stuff. We all like that. It’s a pity that Apple’s legendary customer loyalty makes steps like this entirely superflurous.

    D

  21. Michael, while I wouldn’t consider this can be written off as an “ethical non-issue”, and while I agree that the non-disclosure of some bloggers of this gift is a fault of theirs rather than of Microsoft, I’m with you 100% on that solution.

    If each blogger in receipt of this laptop used it to review Vista in an ideally-suited hardware environment, and then gave it away (either to readers through a contest, of auctioned through eBay with proceeds going to a charity) then it’d be a clear win for everyone concerned.

  22. obviously MS didn’t give away those laptops for “free”,

    if they wanted to do that, they would give it to a charity, not to bloggers,

    someone needs to spread the word(or not)about the nasty DRM in Vista, and Zune for tha matter.

  23. Being a whole lot of nerd oriented people, does anyone remember Hackers?
    Gift of Laptop, come over to our side. That sort of thing. It didn’t work on the Hero, and they resorted to blackmail to get what they wanted, but it did seem to be one small step on the Dark Path. (In fairness, he used it in the end to bring down the bad guys, but the point is still there to be seen)

  24. Dan Warne wrote, “Microsoft’s PR people would no doubt argue that this is about giving bloggers access to a machine that’s going to give them the best experience running Vista, and will allow them to fully explore the mobility features of Vista.”

    Perhaps that’s true for the folks that got Ferrari 5000s, but others that received Ferrari 1000s appear to have been shortchanged with a 64-bit machine that generates only a 2.8 Windows Experience Index. Per Microsoft, 3.0 is required to preload Windows Vista Premium and run it with all features working. See http://oakleafblog.blogspot.com/2006/12/microsoft-gives-bloggers-sub-aero-28.html.

  25. The ethics of this are simple. The computers were given out for “review”. Review the equipment, acknowledge the loan in any review, and return it (in a reasonable, say 30 day, time period), since it is not up to the reviewer to decide how to dispose of the property (including charity). There are many other choices one can make, and almost all are just rationalizations to the benefit of the reviewer.

  26. i see some censorship going on here, deleting my comments,
    what a lamer,

    MS sent out those laptops so the bloggers wont expose the nasty DRM included with Vista and the Zune.

  27. No comment has ever been censored or deleted. Due to caching reasons, comments may not show up immediately.

  28. Hard to believe that anyone who claims to be an independent thinker would accept a gift of such high value. I don’t know where the line is, but this does cross it.
    Just because you work hard and don’t earn much doesn’t mean you should sell out for a new laptop.
    This isn’t ethical.

  29. I recieved the Velocity Micro Machine from AMD and Microsoft.

    It is not a bribe, Countless companies give bloggers etc free product to review.

    I think there is only anger here because Microsoft is involved.

  30. WOW, lucky? I guess not, times like this I wish I blogged, not have bought a Wii, Long I wish you happiness on your free notebook, give us some information on it’s drivers, any DirectX10 or stuff like that?

  31. Well I am a unemployed techie who could not only desperately use the laptop for numerous reasons but as well I got plenty of time to Blog for Microsoft or any other “hiring” agency *winks*. Any takers?

    Seriously I am unemployed and laptopless. I seriously could use it as a family of 6 sharing one PC is hard on me to do alot of CBT lessons and other things. If there is a serious way for me to get a laptop free, donated, or as a payment for work, I would be eternally grateful.

  32. The trashing of MS on topics like this is utterly pathetic and a ridiculous double-standard. If Google or Apple gave away laptops, everyone would praise their commitment to the bloggers. MS does it? Evil. I’m not saying everything MS does is all noble or anything, but the bias against them on issues like this is unwarranted.

  33. It seems obvious that the laptops were sent in order to ensure that Vista would run smoothly, i.e., Microsoft didn’t want to chance it with the recipients’ extant hardware, which depending on the blogger might be anything from brand new down to five years old. Vista can probably only be expected to run well on fairly new hardware, so MS was ensuring that such hardware would be available, by including it.

    This is not really qualitatively different from a motherboard manufacturer sending a board plus RAM and CPU to a hardware reviewer, to ensure that the reviewer has the right RAM and CPU to make the motherboard go. I would expect the reviewer, if he is at all ethical, to disclose what he has been given in the review, but companies have been giving out freebies to reviewers for a while, hoping to get them reviewed, so this is really nothing very new.

  34. This is NOT right.. I bloged about Vista and I have yet to see my Laptop Microsoft.. you have 1 week from today to give me my laptop or face a lawsute…

  35. “Some people have accused my good friend Brandon LeBlanc of accepting the Ferrari without disclosure. Whilst it is true he did not disclose he received the machine from Microsoft in his original post, he had always intenteded to disclose in his review article in the near future. I think nothing less if not more of him for admitting his mistake.

    Bloggers like Brandon put a lot of hard work into their blogs and most of the time receive little or no reimbursement for their highly valuable work. I wouldn’t think it would be inappropriate at all, in fact only fair that these bloggers deserve to keep these machines as ‘rewards’. ”

    HAH!

    Brandon got caught in yet another lie in the VERY SAME THREAD!!!
    http://www.mstechtoday.com/2006/12/27/new-laptops-from-microsoft-yes-i-got-one/

    —-

    Brandon LeBlanc Dec 27th, 2006 at 5:10 pm
    Dennis, I appreciate your comments and am disappointed you think I’m covering my tracks with lies. Not sure exactly what tracks you are referring to as I’ve explained everything already.

    I have indeed donated my Dell to a local network security firm – Xtreme Network Solutions. I do contract work for them for some minor desktop tech support. They started up about a year ago and are investing in secure backup solutions for businesses as well. They are doing some pretty neat stuff. I donated the laptop will Vista and Office 2007 installed for them to demo to customers looking to upgrade.

    I’m sorry that its “ridiculously unbelievable” that I would do something like that but believe it. The Dell is in their hands.

    —-

    Tony Lafarge Dec 27th, 2006 at 6:18 pm
    Very very interesting…………

    Xtreme Network Solutions? URL here for the website, found on Google.

    So would you be related to Vern then? This company started in 1996 according to the website..

    So how can it be a start up? This is a company going for 10 years.

    “Vern LeBlanc is an Information Technology Executive with a comprehensive background in GMP/GLP/ISO environments, secure network design, validation and manufacturing. He has enjoyed 23 accomplished years providing crucial support in the development and implementation of manufacturing and networking technologies. He has a strong expertise in secure network design, systems development, implementation and validation. He has acquired a solid reputation for having a natural ability for solving difficult problems.”

    Care to explain, Mr. Brandon LeBlanc?

    —-

    Robin Dec 27th, 2006 at 6:42 pm
    Nice investigative work, LaFarge.

    Maybe “daddy” runs the “startup” company and Brandon “donated” his old computer to the company, so the the poor, underprivledged “startup” company can have a dedicated iTunes server. Just speculation.

    Blog: Compromised

    —-

    Callie Dec 27th, 2006 at 7:16 pm
    This is just getting worse and worse, as the hole being dug gets deeper and deeper!

    1. “I traded in my Dell for a new Acer!”
    2. Four days later, yet only hours after only after you’re called on this and the whole thing blows up all over the Web, you _finally_ have the time to add that this was a gift from Microsoft (a few words that you didn’t have time to add in the first instance?)
    3. Then we’re told that the Acer is only a “review” unit
    4. Then, after the conditions of Microsoft’s deal are made public (once again, on another blog), we’re told that you were only ever going to use it for a few months because you’re saving for a new laptop anyway (yeah, right, just after you ditched the Dell)
    5. And the Dell was donated to a local business (good for you)…
    6. … which is a tech startup that needs a notebook for demos etc (WTF? What sort of startup has to rely on donated hardware for something as vital as a demo to prospective customers)…
    7… which turns out to be a company that’s been running for over ten years, not very ‘poor little cash-strapped startup’ at all.

  36. Its a bribe. Plain and simple. You have to be either an idiot or working for Microsoft to interpret otherwise.

    No one receives a review unit as a gift to keep or to give away, unless the company in question needs to promote that product or needs to have postive PR for an upcoming one! In this case, its bloody obvious that its Vista. (People aren’t stupid, we know its a standard tactic).

    This is the same with MS’s Zune. They’re giving those things away to selected people. (That includes key open-source folks to get them to influence others, as well as trying to encourage them to develop some compatibility with Linux…As their competitor, the iPod already has a project that is maintaining compatibility with Linux.)

    I don’t mind if MS is giving products away, because I know they have no ethical concious in the first place. But when the other party blindly accepts it, well, I feel sorry for them.

    There may not be an ethical line when it comes to blogging, but it does say something about the character of the blogger. (or multiple bloggers in this case)

    They accepted it, they’re a sell out. And that’s all you need to know about them. Bare them more lavish gifts, and you can probably get them to do sexual favours as well!

    And don’t mind the MS people that come here to explain things, because all they will do, is offer some trivial explanation. (Like they do with everything else!)

  37. Wow! Unfortunately this kind of things don’t get to Argentina… :(

    Great idea from Microsoft and AMD anyway!

    Enjoy your new computer =)

    Zim.

  38. WOW, this is really cool. How do I get started blogging so I can try out the new Windows Vista? I’ll put it to the test. I work for myself and am on the computer 24/7.

  39. “It’s only fair that these bloggers deserve to keep these machines as ‘rewards’”.

    Rewards..? Is anyone seriously claiming that there is nothing wrong with Microsoft “rewarding” a blogger for their coverage of Microsoft products, platforms etc in this vein?

  40. wow! what a bunch of morons. if some one gives you something, as a gift, or what ever, keep it. and when you see some one who gets something dont go crying about it, but rather say “ge, i am glad for them”. why is it when ever some one gets something in the world we think we should get one to or think we should be able to say what they do with it, why they got it or any other crap. get over it peoples. and to those who got the compters. i say thats great! keep em and run with em!

  41. What the hell? Of course this is unethical!

    If this truly were for review purposes only, they would have required the return of the laptops. The lappies are serving an entirely new purpose once your Vista reviews are finished. Leaving the “return or not” decision to the bloggers is a bit of a joke – who would turn down a free Acer/Ferrari?

    As for the bloggers involved, FULL disclosure would require you to not only be transparent about receiving something like this, but also when you feel like you shouldn’t write an anti-MS article for fear of not getting treated like this again. This situation may not happen you say – how are we, the readers, going to know this? We are trusting that your reviews are unbiased.

    Either give the laptop back, or put a badge on your blog that reads “I accepted a laptop from MS” so that everyone knows you MIGHT have been bought out and that EVERY piece you blog about Microsoft MIGHT be tainted. A disclosure logged away in your posts archive isn’t good enough.

    Bloggers. Independant media, my arse.

  42. Before I come off sounding too “old man cranky”, congratulations on the new laptop. Just don’t pretend that “free” doesn’t mean it won’t cost you anything.

  43. Sigh, one day I’ll learn to type more carefully.

    ‘Just don’t pretend that “free” means it won’t cost you anything.’

  44. My god.

    Is it just me, or do a substantial number of the negative comments spring from jealousy (i.e. “I didn’t get one!”)?

    I haven’t seen a good argument AGAINST the campaign yet.

    The assorted ones are:

    Premises:
    1) The laptop with Vista is a very valuable gift.
    2) The gift establishes a positive bias towards Microsoft, AMD, and Acer. (Incidentally, why are people blaming the idea for this solely on Microsoft? It’s obviously co-run by AMD, and no doubt sponsored by Acer).
    3) The unnaturally positive bias will reflect in the blog.

    Conclusions:
    1) The laptop is a bribe for good PR, and as such it’s unethical to accept and proves that Vista is junk.
    2) The unnaturally positive bias will destroy the credibility of any (independent) blogger.
    3) To prevent the gift from being a bribe, the laptop should be given away or returned.

    I’d like to point out that:

    1) Bloggers are NOT INDEPENDENT and make no claim to be. Bloggers are people, and people have biases/opinions (positive and negative). This is, in part, what makes blogs valuable.
    2) There is no guaranteed relationship between the gift and the bias of the review.
    3) This is an outreach program to bloggers who wouldn’t otherwise get ‘review products’ or have the resources to talk about Vista/etc authoratatively. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the bloggers selected already blog about Vista and Microsoft.
    4) This is a joint venture by Microsoft and AMD. Microsoft supplies the OS, AMD the hardware (I imagine Acer is sponsoring this, as they’d like to push their high-margin Ferrari laptop line). It’s not “Microsoft is giving away hardware! OMG! They don’t make hardware!” Obviously; but AMD and Acer do.
    5) There are some good reasons to give the machines away. Microsoft recommends giving the machines away, which drives traffic to the blog and increases awareness of the campaign.

    Ultimately, I can’t see this as an ethical issue on Microsoft’s part. The bloggers receiving the laptops may have to weigh their principles, and their own PERSONAL blogging philosophy, but that’s their problem. If they feel that accepting the gift will change their bias, they can return it, give it away, donate it to charity (proceeds from sale or otherwise), or even willfully destroy it.

  45. nananana
    Dec 28th, 2006 at 3:29 pm

    This is NOT right.. I bloged about Vista and I have yet to see my Laptop Microsoft.. you have 1 week from today to give me my laptop or face a lawsute…

    For real??? I didn’t think that was something that they HAD to do and is probably not in any business rules. I would forget the “lawsuit”, it would cost less time and money to go buy one.

  46. Yeah, because I’d rather hear some pissy nerd complain about how they took a node from their Beowulf cluster (a 486DX…. no less) and it wouldn’t even recognize the DVD that Vista came on (because it only has a 1x CD-ROM and a 5.25″ floppy installed).

    So, I do understand why MS made certain that the experience was up to par (in the case of the ferrari 5000’s), or at least do-able (with the Ferrari 1000’s). What I don’t understand is what makes a bunch of people that apparently read these individuals blogs think that the authors should just entertain them, and not only never recieve any cool stuff…. but turn any SCHWEEEEET gifts away like the Japanese do to the XBox360.

    People, if it pisses you off so bad that the bloggers got something and you did not, just stay away from their sites. Don’t flaunt penis envy, it’s not very becoming. Just leave the tainted bloggers to themselves to wallow in their loneliness, while basking in the soft flourescent glow of the 15.4″
    widescreen display of that new Ferrari 5000 they took a shot in the mouth for. Trust me, I don’t think I would want to suffer like that. Would you?

  47. Keeping or returning or giving the laptop away are abviously at the discretion of the recipient, and to hell with the commenters.

    However, consider this. A blogger depends on his/her audience, at least a little. This giveaway, especially when it has been made public, has resulted in only one sure thing: doubts about the motivation of bloggers who have received these laptops. Microsoft and AMD and Acer are the benevolent grandmothers. Even you are defending them. Yet, your reputation could suffer the most.

    IMHO, do what you want and don’t defend anyone. If you want to give the laptop away, just give it away. If you want to keep it, just keep it. I know if I got one, I’d probably say: “What the hell, it’s free, I’m keeping it”. In an expensive country like South Africa, you need all the free hardware you can get :)

  48. I agree with Michael, this is blown way out of proportion..err..and the other previous Michael.

    ArenaNet gave me presents as a ‘thank you’ for creating a fansite for Guild Wars.
    Was this a bribe? Well, it can’t of been, because prior to these ‘presents’ I’ve attacked them on numerous points.
    Nobody (who knew) considered this a bribe.

    I’m sure if Apple jumped in, somebody would praise them for getting community involvement…

    @Long re: this posts disclosure. All us RSS readers care! ;)

  49. Must be nice! :D

    I ain’t that big or great a blogger… I might be after this reply though… anyhow… I’d enjoy it man, freebies are awesome, I don’t care who gives ‘em out! All else fails you can always format and install red hat! ;) :P

  50. I don´t think it is imoral to give the “gift”, but I think it´s imoral to accept it and to change our opinion. I would take one, but just to remove Vista and install a Linux after taking a look to say what I really think about this Windows release.

    By the way we say good things for free if the OS is good, looks like Vista is the worst OS ever! ;-)

  51. Well done Long for creating some FUD in the community. Before you post this kind of stuff on your blog can you please check your facts instead of updating the post days later with partially correct information? Like Aaron pointed out above, these are review units like we receive every other day and we’re welcome to return them, keep them or give them away. Its posts like this that furthers the belief in bloggers never being considered true journalists.

  52. Apple gave away MacBook Pros to people who helped work on their open source webkit project, that was as a reward to people, not an attempt to buy good press, obviously so since no one has brought it up.

  53. I somehow don’t believe that the kind of responses that I’ve been reading would have been anywhere near the same if the OS had been sent on its own. In the end that is all that Microsoft, directly, has given away and should be treated as such.

    Either way, it is totally up to Long and the other bloggers whether they want to keep it or not, it’s not a question of ethics and the decision should not take into account a lot of the responses here as MS has stated basically: There is no necessity to a) post about the laptop/OS b) post positive comments about laptop/OS. Thus the comments about bribes are totally redundant and to be honest, insulting to a person who has done a lot of good work in the past.

    Final point, as a software developer, if I had the cash, I would probably do the same. Not because I wanted bias feedback but because I would want the system to be at its best for examination, testing and use.

  54. Why is that anything and everything Microsoft does to promote its products is considered “evil,” and anyone who partakes is selling their soul, a drone, “assimilated,” etc.?

    Giving away swag – even expensive swag like a Ferrari laptop running the latest, greatest version of Windows – is hardly news; it’s a common marketing tactic. What better way to get the talking heads who are talking about your product to say something relevant and (God forbid) accurate than to make sure they’ve actually got your product to play with?

    When Sun started “giving away” Solaris in the hope of generating more *business revenue,* the tech community’s only complaint was that the move was overdue. The same is true of Oracle, IBM, and RedHat’s “giving away” of their own flavors of Linux – not because they’re non-profit companies living the free software dream, but because they’re for-profit businesses aggressively promoting their own branded software stacks.

    Oh, but that’s just software! Fine – where are all the people defending Microsoft’s bundling of browser, email, media player, etc. with their OS? Besides, drawing the line at hardware give-aways seems to be an arbitrary and bogus criterion, too. I didn’t hear Slashdot call Apple’s “educational” iPod Nano give-away a bribe, yet they’re leading the anti-Microsoft charge, as per usual.

    Now, if Microsoft had given away these laptops on condition of being reviewed positively (or, at least, not being reviewed negatively), that would justify a snarky tagline about soul-selling. Ditto if Microsoft were exclusively targeting the “rock star” technorati. I’ll even give you that it could be construed as dirty pool if they start making this a routine habit.

    But giving away Vista-primed laptops with their new products on it with no-strings attached during the product launch?

    Not so much IMO.

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  57. Just my 2 cents worth (a reinforcement of the above post):
    1. There’s no compulsion upon the bloggers in question to be pro Microsoft/AMD/Acer so where’s the “bribe” element?
    2. The bloggers are given free reign to dispose of the machines after review as they see fit – some may reformat the hdd and load a *nix o/s – I see nothing that bars that.
    3. The machines and o/s are being given out prior to public release of Windows Vista and, presumably, will be reviewed fairly – it’s always possible that the bloggers themselves feel an element of unease with the reciept of a free review machine too and would be almost ultra-impartial in their review!
    4. As pointed out by several above, this is a good marketing exercise by the donating parties and if continued would be a healthy trend – social networking is now so influential that it is almost as important as the commercial advertising model and the relative cost of these laptops is a fraction of the latter costs.
    5. A lot of the “complaints” smack more of envy than of any lucid reasoning.

  58. The big point here is, people are posting how they “rely” on information given to them by the bloggers in question. So, basically, you base alot of decisions and opinions on what you read on somebody’s blog page. Would you pay for that info? Apparently not.

    So, if you people are not willing to compensate the individuals, who are only doing this to be nice, why in the hell would you condemn them for accepting a gift of sorts? Santa gives presents to the good boys and girls… yet nobody yells that his views on naughty or nice have been tainted by gifts of cookies and milk.

  59. Once you accept a gift like this (and if you don’t have to return it then it is most certainly a gift) you have officially defined yourself as a whore. Just like the bloggers who took money from politicians, or the ones who accepted free trips to Amsterdam. You’ve hung out a sign that says, “I’m for sale.”

    That’s your choice. But pretty soon nobody can be sure if you’re espousing a point of view because you truly believe it or because somebody paid you to believe it. And if you think you can accept payola without it affecting your independence, you’re extremely naive.

    Oh, and you forfeit all rights to speak credibly about the biases of the mainstream media.

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  62. I hate Acer computers. Probably unfairly, based on one I had a decade ago.

    That said, if one of these babies landed on my doorstep, I’d “review” the heck out of it on my site. I’d start the review with full disclosure, try as hard as possible to be fair about its usefulness as a media machine, and then give it away to a site member or a charity like an AIDS organization, a women’s shelter or a school that couldn’t afford it.

    Because as much as I hate Acer computers, I hate laptops even more.

  63. I have to ask, why are they sending laptops out to known mac users who run popular blogs? Are they really that naive to think it would not cause a controversy? Were they really expecting to bribe these guys into giving a glowing review of Vista and to switch to windows? Come on.

    This is definitely a PR nightmare for MSFT and all the recent backpedaling will only make it worse.

  64. I’ll also add—speaking as a news editor—that I fail to see how this differs from being invited to a press/media-only event at, say, Disneyland. You get a free day’s admission, food, drinks, merchandise/gifts, and a chance to have first crack at a story, and maybe even a celebrity interview or two. By accepting, you’re not obliged to be positive (or even kind) in your opinion of the media event or its subject. Nobody bats an eye at that.

    Should I NOT send a reporter out to cover a media-only event (which is, in actuality, more like a private party) because I know full well they’ll be wined, dined and sent home with merchandise that is, in some cases, very nice?

    I consider it a bonus perk for my reporters, who don’t get paid nearly enough for their work and rarely get any kind of public recognition for it either.

  65. “Once you accept a gift like this (and if you don’t have to return it then it is most certainly a gift) you have officially defined yourself as a whore.”

    Confucious once say: A whore with a laptop and smeared lipstick has more dignity than the slut with smeared lipstick who did it for false glory.

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  67. I for one see no problem in what Microsoft (and AMD which most people seem to be forgetting) is doing with giving these review machines to bloggers, who can then do with it what they will.

    I’ve seen this kind of reward for reviewing hardware and software first hand and yes the chance to keep the pieces of as yet un-released technology was the driving force behind wanting to do the review in the first place it had no bearing at all on the final review.

    I would also like to point out that review hardware is the primary source for nearly all hardware publications competition prizes. Which just makes anyone complaining about it appear to be another M$ is evil clone.

    P.S I’m not a fan of Microsoft and would prefer never having to use a security hole riddled piece of crap like vista!

  68. @Aaron Coldiron-Windows Vista

    “I understand the concerns on ethics, and I share them.”

    “We want to be fully transparent about what we are doing here.”

    Well, the easiest path to ‘full transparentcy’ would be to publish who recieved the review laptops on your Windows Vista Virtual Pressroom. The reviewers lose nothing, review readers can weigh the reviews for themselves. How about it?

  69. I don’t get it.

    I’ve been mailed books and diet plans with requests to use and then review them on my site. I read it, implement it, and write about it. Omigosh – I’ve even written NEGATIVE reviews! Does that make me a sellout?

    What about the focus groups you get roped into at the mall? They bring you in to taste test a product and then give you twenty bucks and some coupons for their product. Is that unethical? Nope. It’s marketing.

    With the advent of sites like PayPerPost and ReviewMe – people are being paid cash for their opinions. Neither one of them require you to be in favor of what you’re reviewing, and it doesn’t appear that MS if requiring that either.

    I agree with some of the thoughts about how some of these comments are simply anti-MS explosions. You know what? MS is not going anywhere – and y’all are just going to have to deal with it. Why don’t people battle like this over Verizon and Sprint??

  70. Outrageous to think that someone could be bought for a mere $2,000 bauble. Honest and true-blue bloggers would certainly hold out for more, before surrendering.

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  75. Edelman has is already on the hotseat with the WOMMA over it’s Wal-marting Across America flog.

    This is simply more astroturf.

    Traditional marketing is becoming less effective so marketers are moving to new avenues. The problem is when the advertising is undisclosed. That’s when it becomes illegal. It is actually a crime.

    Flogs, astroturf and guerilla marketing generally try to get their messages across without revealing that the message is a paid one. Subterfuge is inherent in those methods and that is simply immoral and unethical.

    It will also have an interesting effect on the population when it becomes more wide spread. When you don’t know who is offering advice and who is pitching a product because they are your coworkers, friends or even family, are you going to learn to turn everyone out like you do to a commercial now?

    Do you think your teenager would turn down free pop in return for getting their friends to drink it? Would they tell you about it? What if they were offered cigarettes?

    Does your buddy buy that beer he always has in his fridge?

    Does your coworker really like that reality show that she always talks about, or is it compensated word-of-mouth?

    You don’t think companies would waste time with narrow-casting?

    Watch “The Persuaders” from Frontline, on PBS.

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/persuaders/view/

    LOL, now is my message unscripted, or am I just a shill for Public Broadcasting?

  76. Still, a “http://www.istartedsomething.com/20061124/sony-free-battery/” thing like that in these would be nice, too bad for that, the graphics card must be a GeForce 8800 or something realted, so how does the warranaty pay off?

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  78. Since I’m a recipient of a Ferrari 5000 from Acer, I’m obviously biased towards Microsoft’s motives. I personally began blogging on Microsoft technologies to refrain from sending my clients too many emails – or emails that were not pertinent to them at the time.

    I’m not a “journalist” – but even professional IT consultants have “ethics” too. I could not be successful without telling the truth, being fair, doing my own research, verifying my research, and creating original content.

    As a Microsoft consultant it’s my job to be familiar with technology BEFORE my client sees it. Or more importantly, BEFORE they have a problem with it!

    My TechNet subscription provided me access to the betas of Windows Vista (along with the many incremental upgrades). For almost two years, I’ve participated and provided feedback in Windows Vista forums, webcasts, training and labs.

    I’m pleased and humbled that my blog is “popular” beyond the people that I personally support. Microsoft named me MVP for providing technical assistance beyond my normal professional responsibilities. Being provided an evaluation computer from Acer is not a “bribe” – it simply allows me to accelerate my evaluations, documentation and demonstrations of Windows Vista.

  79. First of all I believe Microsoft’s direction with bloggers is not correct. They said that with this new Acer Laptop and Windows Vista a blogger will have a better expirence. This is WRONG!!! Here is how Microsoft should approach bloggers. They first need to get Windows or any other Microsoft OS to work better with MySql databases. Majority of web hosting sites run MySql databases. This database runs excellent with Unix and Linux, but have issues from time to time with Microsoft OS and Severs. Second they need to be able to handle PHP code better with Internet Explorer. I currently run Firefox and still after IE 7 was released, I still use Firefox because it handles PHP code better than IE. Most of the blogging software out there is written in PHP. Microsoft needs to update their technology to handle this. One major way is to have their browsers be more W3C compliant. This is just my opinion about Microsoft and the blogging world.

  80. I don’t understand the big deal. Murph, the point of a review is to let us know if thinks work or not. I haven’t run vista yet so maybe if some of these bloggers reviewed the machines and stopped whining I might know if microsoft fixed most of the crap you typed. php does not rule the world. the issues you have are not the issues that everyone else has.

    @Sally…How did they sell out. you can be outraged all you want who really cares. There’s too much fanaticism in the tech world today.

    If I happened to be one of the bloggers I’d keep the machine cos i don’t have a windows machine. If I ended up not liking it I’d move to trusty old ubuntu like my other machine has.

  81. You guys have way too much time on your hands. It is a waste of time debating what is ethical or not. We have great leaders in our country who have shown us it’s ok to accept bribes. (Reference; Cheney rewarding Halliburton the Iraqi oil contracts)
    No worries mates, life is too short to sweat over minor stuff like getting a small gift.

  82. OffTopic, pedantic :)

    @Murph:

    “…need to be able to handle PHP code better with Internet Explorer. I currently run Firefox and still after IE 7 was released, I still use Firefox because it handles PHP code better than IE.”

    PHP code is handled server-side – neither IE, Firefox or Opera ever touch any PHP code. I think what you’re trying to say is that you want IE to be more standards compliant in the way it handles CSS and HTML.

  83. We also have received a fully loaded Media Center PC from Microsoft as part of this campaign. People need to stop complaining – in reality, it really seems that those complaining are those who weren’t chosen. It is COMMON PRACTICE from companies to get their products into the hands of those who review said products, prior to a launch. How else are you supposed to review them before they are available to the general public? This isn’t just for the tech industry – Ebert and Roeper see movies – for free – before they are available to the public. Any problem there? Probably not.

    Plus this is a part of something bigger that Microsoft is doing – the Vanishing Point game, where Loki is the one “planning” these giveaways.

  84. MS has a monopoly position, allowing it to basically set prices for Windows and Office, its two main cash cows. From this money it not only attacks new markets with loss leaders (XBox, Zune, et al) but can easily give away thousands of dollars in merchandise to key members of the “viral marketing” legion of bloggers.

    Call it what it is – it’s new, it’s fast and it’s shiney. It’s a bribe, guys.

  85. @Knute: A monopoly (from the Latin word monopolium – Greek language monos, one + polein, to sell) is defined as a persistent market situation where there is only one provider of a product or service. I took that definition from Wikipedia, however it is backed up as pretty much the same in most dictionaries. Note the use of ‘one provider of a product or service’.

    Microsoft does not have a monopoly situation in any market it is in, because it is not a sole provider of a product or service. As you seem to know a little about economics and marketing (from the language you used – cash cows and loss leaders) you would also know about the simple theory of Supply and Demand. As demand increases, so does the price of the product. As demand decreases, the price goes down, and the same for supply. In other words, Microsoft can only set prices at the level they are at today due to the demand for their product.

    Now I’ll explain why MS do not have a monopoly and probably never will:

    Windows – OSX, Linux are also in the same market
    Office – StarOffice, and many open source office publication programs
    Zune – iPod, and the freaking millions of other MP3 players out there
    XBox – PS3, Wii, DS, the list goes on.

    It is an annoying misconception that MS have a monopoly on the OS market, or any market they are in because it really is not the case. You can argue that 95% of the world use office and windows, but that is not through monopolistic activities on the part of Microsoft, but rather intelligent marketing and a far superior product to the evident competitors in the OS market.

    And, no, it is not a bribe for Microsoft and AMD to send these laptop’s out to bloggers, because a bribe, in this sense, requires the person to write positively about the product, yet Long in his most recent post said the following:

    I got the Velocity Micro Media Center from Microsoft. It came with a US-standard power cable. Since I have no monitor or TV, it’s a AU$5000 machine with absolutely no use to me at all right now. Should I invest time and money into making it work, I’m going to have to give it away anyway. I’ll worry about getting it to work later.

    Not exactly a glowing review of the computer or Microsoft’s competence at delivering a computer that will work in Australia as is! And I think you’ll find that bloggers have a lot more ethics and credibility than you’d think!

  86. Btw, before anyone tries to lynch me, I do not work for Microsoft, am not a blogger, and have never had any affiliations with Microsoft, AMD or any computer manufacturer for that matter.

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  88. “Why is that anything and everything Microsoft does to promote its products is considered “evil,” and anyone who partakes is selling their soul, a drone, “assimilated,” etc.?”

    I guess it’s just their bad karma coming back.

  89. Ok, all this Whining and Complaining has caused me to want to create a response to all this waste of time and energy by people who have no clue where things have come from in the past 30 years. Talented people who have been working with the Computer Industry in the last 30 or so years have seen a lot and have experienced a lot. Most of what is out there now was created as a Result Of IBM Corporation. Bill Gates only got his start because IBM waited all day first to talk to the Owner of Digital Resesarch. They waited all day at his house waiting for him to come home from flying his Private Airplane. He never arrived, so IBM went to Bill Gates and offered him the business (They wanted him to write their PC-DOS), so he sold them a Product he didn’t even have at the time (BDOS). IBM Preferred CCP-86 (Concurrent CPM-86 over DBOS, but they gave up and went to Bill Gates the next day. He (Bil Gates) had to go out and buy it and re-write it for IBM to use. That is how Bill Gates got Lucky. It was Stupid, Dumb Luck that Bill Gates is even anybody today, all because the Owner of Digital Research pissed of the IBM guys who went to Bill Gates as their backup, 2nd choice. That is all Microsoft is. A second choice. They have always probably known that, but nobody writes about it. What happened to you John Dvorak? You used to be all up on this? What happened to you Mr. Juggling the Running Chainsaws and then doing Computer Reviews part time? Where are you now? None of any of this whining and complaining changes anything that is really important. Mac OS-X allows multiple versions of Mac OS to run under OS-X and allows IBM Software to run in a Vitual PC session especially now with the Dual Intel Native Code Chipset. Let’s here about some real issues rather and what really matters, rather than pissing and moaning about who gets what for Free. Microsoft knows they are inferior and have always worked silently not talking about it, hoping those of us who really know, wouldn’t talk.

    Come on, let’s move on and talk about something new and exciting, rather than the same old complaining.

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  91. Justin – all Latin aside – walk into your work tomorrow and tell them you no longer “choose” to use Windows and MS Office. If you’re one of 90% or more workers in the US, you’ll be out of a job.

    *That* is a monopoly.

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  93. I think the Microsoft EULA based restrictions on benchmarking Vista, Office 2007, .NET Framework and many other Redmond software products (see here for the list:http://www.theopensourcery.com/wordp1/index.php) make this a clear bribe. You can say positive things with no risk of legal action by Microsoft; but if bloggers choose to say reality based testing things theuy risk the full weight of Microsoft’s legal department.

    So if we have some adventurous bloggers here they should set up a website: http://www.VISTA.xxx in which they reports of runs of Vista versus Redhat Fedora or Ubuntu Linux – with “pseudo” benchmark comparisons of Vista versus Linux, Office 2007 versus Open Office, SQL Server 2005 versus MySQL 5.0 and Visual Studio 2005 versus GNU.

    Then warn users on a splash screen that their eyes may be affected and they may not be able to legally buy Vista and associated Microsoft software after seeing the “pseudo” benchmarks.

    Now what “pseudo” type benchmarks .. ohhh that will be easy – just slowdown the Linux programs so that they come within but not exceeding Vista or Office performance … and then suggest that one or more additional tasks were performed by the Linux software. Which exactly is not certain, but one of say three that unfortunately made the Linux programs slower than their Vista counterparts by 1-2%. Then these could not possibly be construed as real benchmarks – but rather apples and oranges comparisons with Vista doing just the apples while Linux does both Apples and Oranges tasks.

    I tell you Microsoft has just handed Linux supporters a golden opportunity to show what a difference a good operating system makes on performance. This is an opportunity not to be missed!!!

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  95. There is a solution to this problem. It appears the A-list bloggers have been given a dispensation on Microsoft’s EULA-based restrictions on benchmarking and/or saying negative things about Vista and Microsoft software. Well why not do a very interesting comparison: Dual boot these 160GB babies and compare Vista 64bit versus Linux 64bit. May I suggest one of Redhat Fedora, Ubuntu or Xandros ?
    See here for more details on the blogger opportunity of a lifetime to set the record straight:
    http://www.theopensourcery.com/wordp1/index.php

    Vista versus Linux, mano a mano, on identically the same hardware. What an opportunity!!!

  96. I don’t think it matters. From a marketing standpoing it has always been standard practice to send out demos and trials to the people writing the stories.

    The fact that Microsoft has to send out a laptop with that kind of serious meat under the hood just means that they are scared out of their minds that the opinions written will be based on someone running it on their old Dell D600, which from personal experience, is about as fun as watching paint dry.

    So far Vista has proven to be a hog – albeit a pretty one and maybe something worthwhile might come of it once Service Pack 1 is released. I went back to XP on my notebook because I simply don’t have the time to wait for it.

  97. Hello Long Zheng,

    All the best with your new desktop.

    Would appreciate it if you could support my blog below: http://vistaferrari.blogspot.com

    I used the Ferrari image in your post (but it’s hosted on ImageShack). Hope that’s okay with you. Let me know if it’s not, and I’ll remove it.

    Thanks and have a Happy New Year!

  98. From a marketing standpoint this looks like no big deal, but the ethics suck! Bloggers are no less than journalists these days and expensive gifts to them are to be considered bribes – period. Ethical bloggers should show their mettle by promptly returning the gifts.

  99. Why on earth are people feeling sorry for Microsoft? C’mon, how many times have Apple or Google been dragged through the European courts for anti-competitive practises and so on?

    We all know Microsoft have integrated certain facilities in the operating system to try and shut the competition out! And now they are implementing all kinds of nastiness in Vista, such as DRM, because we as consumers are guilty until proven innocent.

    You know as well as I do that they are a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and it is fully understandable why so many other companies have respect.

  100. We must also remember that a certain blogger has probably taken the heat more than anyone else, because they didn’t provide full disclosure. And he has treated his readers like fools… read through the comments and responses and you will see lie after lie after lie…

    I don’t think this applies to anyone else really.

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  102. So, we have gone from the jealous people trying to get a blogger wrist-slapping session going, to the boneheaded *nix users jumping on this like the weasels they really are. There’s a reason MS has products on practically every computer in existence… because they really aren’t as bad as some people try to think. It’s kinda like this… if you have a lemonade stand, and tell everybody that it tastes great when in actuality it tastes more like a mixture of horse-piss and stagnated sewerage pond water… nobody will buy your lemonade.

    But, here’s what really happened… Gates wound up with several flavors of lemonade, by which it doesn’t matter how he came across them…. he has them. Period. They actually taste pretty good. 95% of the people that walk by Bill’s lemonade stand buy a glass of lemonade from him. Well, There’s a few other lemonade stands that try to say that Bill’s lemonade sucks, even though there’s a 95% majority that apparently thinks otherwise. What can we deduce from this?

    95% of people are strong minded. They can make their own decisions on which products “taste better to them”. People can try to tell them what they “should like”, but they will not listen, as they have made up their own minds as to what “tastes best to them”.

    5% of people are morons that are lucky to be able wipe their own asses. They have weak minds and are able to be singled out by wolves dressed as apples and penguins. Maybe one day, they will wake up… but I strongly doubt it.

    NOW, back to the bloggers!!! I am almost positive that most of the bloggers have day jobs that fund their ability to have these fancy websites and post their thoughts… selflessly… for all of us to enjoy.

    You aren’t paying a subscription fee to read the blogs are you?

    Hmm… “no” you say? Then what the hell are you bitching about? You got what you paid for. Not a damn thing. Go cry to your mommies about how how you arent getting out of a free service what you thought you would.

  103. Send Them Back… It’ll cost hours of finding all the bugs that they forgot to take out of the software before they sent them out with these high speed machines. But then again they can probably be rebuilt with something else a little more reliable.

  104. “Send Them Back… It’ll cost hours of finding all the bugs that they forgot to take out of the software before they sent them out with these high speed machines. But then again they can probably be rebuilt with something else a little more reliable.”

    Yeah, and more desirable too. Oh… wait… you weren’t talking about Linux or something were you? hell, rumor has it that they can’t even give that crap away.

    LOL

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  106. SoooooConfused, You got me! All I ask is that they do NOT ever send one my way! I would send it back or give it to a homeless person.

    LOL

  107. The Society for Professional Journalists Code of Ethics (http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp) says, in part:

    Journalists should:

    —Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
    — Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
    — Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.
    — Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
    — Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.
    — Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.
    — Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for news.

    Should these apply to bloggers? If not, do bloggers adhere to some other code of conduct? I’m neither blogger nor journalist but I think that debate on such issues is important. It’s related, to the question of whether one should incorporate advertising in a blog.

  108. Sorry, Me. Wasn’t trying to pick on you. I am quitting smoking. Forgive me and be my newest friend.

    Mr. Beroset, I think that in order to assume that people should abide by some rules, that the rules in question should first fit the situation completely.

    First, being a journalist is a career. Usually, a career consists of a job, and compensation for efforts exerted at that job.

    Being a Blogger is a hobby. A hobby doesn’t necessarily involve compensation. Thus, I do not consider being a blogger in the same category as being a journalist. Some of the activities are the same, but the two things are vastly different. It would be the same as saying that because I have taken a swim in the ocean, I am a shark.

    Again, it brings me back to the free service point. You pay for your newspaper. If you see something you don’t like, you will at least have one leg to stand on, in that you are paying for a service that doesn’t deliver what you expect.

    A blogger offers free information. That should be enough for any non-paying customer. So, get off the whole “I think you should abide by these rules which don’t necessarily apply to you” topic. It’s not very becoming.

    I have an idea. If you guys really want someone to abide some a set of non-applicable rules, go tell a saltwater crocodile to his face that if he wants to pretend to be a dragonfly, he has to get out of the water and fly around.

    That should be fun.

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  110. Aside from the “blogger code of ethics” I linked earlier, here’s one of the Poynter Institute’s columnists weighing in on the situation.

    http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=31&aid=116000

    A couple of good points there re: the real value of a laptop preloaded with Vista.

    (if you’re a journlist, Poynter is a must-have bookmark to keep up with the latest goings on)

  111. You are right in that having a pre-loaded Vista laptop misses out on the install… but really, I have been playing with Vista since Longhorn Alpha. Installing has gotten easier with each new build (save for some of the crap builds… and the problem alot of people had with burning the .iso images to DVD for install). I can see why someone would toss that out for opinions, but really, it’s not a big issue at all… I’d go as far to say not an issue at all. Vista RTM is probably the easiest to install iteration of Windows to date. It even installed hitch-free on my 4 drive RAID array. No F6 necessary.

  112. “Knute
    Dec 31st, 2006 at 6:36 am

    Justin – all Latin aside – walk into your work tomorrow and tell them you no longer “choose” to use Windows and MS Office. If you’re one of 90% or more workers in the US, you’ll be out of a job.

    *That* is a monopoly.”

    *That* is why they don’t just let anyone preside over hearings. *That* has nothing to do with MS being a monopoly, just with your company requiring that you be able to use the tools that they have given you. If you think that is what constitutes a monopoly, PLEASE don’t get appointed as a Supreme Court Judge any time soon. OK?

  113. Couldn’t agree more. Haven’t checked this site for a few days, just saw the response, and thought exactly the same thing as you.

    I thought my initial clarification was clear – obviously not clear enough for everyone!

  114. Also, who said anything about the US? I live in Australia, and I’m pretty sure you can’t lose your job for asking if you can use a Macintosh – though you will get a few strange looks :D.

    And I did walk into work, and I said to myself…I think I’ll use the Mac today. And for a short time I did use the Mac, before I got frustrated and went back to my PC. This is what is called “choice” – where there are two or more options. Not exactly a monopoly when there is more than one product to choose from, is it?

  115. This is Bill Gates Bill believe in “every life has equal value. In 2000, they created the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help reduce inequities in the United States and around the world” So why the hell do they give out free computer to those who is either in business earning a money and do not need to be given free computers from Microsoft and AMD as valuable gifts because they already own a computer in the first instence!
    Not one of these gifts was given to anyone that dose not have a compter or cannot aford to buy one. I think its is a real shame on Microsoft and AMD as the price of one of these items can and could save over 1000 lifes in some parts of the globe!

  116. Although you have a good point (and I completely agree with you), remember the computers are actually Acer’s with AMD processors, and were sent by both AMD and Microsoft (and Microsoft didnt even send them – their PR company did!)

  117. I say kudos to Microsoft and AMD. They are recognizing blogging as a REAL MEDIA. They did not ‘buy’ good will. They are simply providing material for bloggers review without any hitches. This is good for bloggers, readers of bloggers, and the companies.

  118. Jane Wilson, I think I love you. Lol. Seriously, So far the count on computers passed out is in the vicinity of 100. 100 stinkin’ laptops/htpc’s. If they had passed out 1000 or more, I could see this point being argued. But to raise a stink over 100 machines is a bit out there. I’m not gonna take you to dinner if you keep acting like that. J/K, just wanted to lighten the tone and still make a point.

    This whole mess is blown way out proportion. It was fun playing with you folks. Hope you enjoyed it as well. May a great year lay in store for you all.

  119. SooooConfused: I think you are confused. :) I didn’t write that bloggers *should* abide by the journalism ethics. I just offered those as one set of possible guidelines and asked if those don’t apply which ones should? You seem to be saying that because it’s a hobby, no ethical considerations apply, but surely that can’t be right.

    I’m not forcing or even asking for anyone to adhere to any particular guidelines. I understand that this is out of the usual for the blogosphere, but I’m not stating an opinion — I’m asking a question (you can tell by the little ‘?’ thingy). What ethics DO apply? None? Let’s say that a blogger who writes about technology had just gotten a check from Microsoft for US$2000. Would that be different? If so, why?

    Anyway, Bruce Wolf understood the question and pointed to an interesting proposal for blogger ethics guidelines that’s worth repeating: http://www.cyberjournalist.net/news/000215.php

    Some websites, including mine, have a little “this is XHTML compliant” logos on the page. Many corporate websites have hyperlinks to a privacy policy statement. It might be useful to create a little “this blog conforms to XYZ ethical guidelines” logo with a hyperlink under the logo to explain what those policies are.

  120. You want rules that should apply to bloggers? Here’s my suggestions.

    –A “blogger” is not allowed to charge for the services he offers.

    –A blogger can recieve “gifts”, donations, and review items from any source he sees as being fit.

    –A blogger has the right to give the finger to “patrons” who complain about services rendered, even though the services were offered for free.

    It’s like this… If I offer to do a favor or service for free, I really don’t expect someone to try to make me “conform” to some bunch of bullshit rules so that I can continue offering my services at no cost. You guys have some control issues or something. Are you willing to front a subscription fee to the bloggers so that you have the right to complain? I highly doubt it, but if you are, let me know. I’ll start a blog in the morning.

  121. Plus you said how you are only asking a question…. but you imply all the way through the post about how bloggers need rules of conduct or something. I just can’t understand the need to make others conform to a set of rules that doesn’t have to do with commiting a crime.

    The real thing that bothers me is that a few little paragraphs of information has turned into this. A bunch of people bickering back and forth about trivial matters.

    So about 100 people got a free computer. Big whoop. We all hope their reviews aren’t swayed by this fact.

    See how easy that was? I stated my opinion, a worry, and I even squeezed in some sarcasm. And the whole while, I kept from saying that Bloggers need a code of ehtics. Damn dirty Bloggers, they are.

  122. SooooConfused I really dont care if it was 1 or 100 BUT PLEASE DONT WASTE YOUR ENERGY OR TIME HAVING A GO AT ME! the point is to get at the companys that are involed maybe they read the website and take in what people have written

    also I need to stress again is that all the people given such items already have computers or money to buy one, I have work for an independent Foundation just like the one Gates set-up and to be truthfull with you it only takes 6 cents or pence to purchase one single tablet in order to save a life.

    “Like I mension,”Not one of these gifts was given to anyone that dose not have a compter or cannot aford to buy one”

    It would be nice if other company give away free goods to people that would really benifit the people such has the DRUG COMPANYS, giving out free drugs, WATER COMPANYS, AND SO ON!

    Or even better why didnt they ask for the laptops back to Auction them on or ask if they want to buy them at a cheaper rate and use the money to help and save lifes

    Oh and SooooConfused I would not go out to dinner even if you was the last person on earth god good you must be really desperate even to consider it in joke format if that was at all who knows

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  124. First let me begin by saying congrats to those for receiving the review machinery.

    Secondly, like others have said before, this type of ‘giveaway’ of reveiw merchandise has been done before. Many companies use the power of the people (the avaerage person and other businesses) to not only reveiw their merchandise (of which the intent of this purpose is mainly to gain constructive critisizm) but to provide a possible client/customer with the tools in which to test their product, using the feedback to better their product if neeed be.

    I am a small business owner in a small town. I build and sell computers, computer hardware and software, and all things related to computers. Where I live and where my business is located at is a mostly farming community and so having a business dealing with high tech items is not really what is known here as a necessary commodity. Getting busiess here is very hard at best, so making a profit is just as hard, so if I were to giveaway/rent/loan any software or equipment I would probably stand a better chance of getting more business and in turn more profit. But that would only stand as long as my products quality and my services quality would.

    Microsoft has admittidly sent out buggy operating systems with every new o/s they have had, and if you were to take in the fiasco release of Windows 95 (and it’s 3 post releases of patches/fixes) and the loss of customers they had over that, then I say the giveaway of their new o/s of Vista on machines capable of giving the user/reveiwer a chance to say yay or nay about how Vista operates is less of a loss to Microsoft than if they were to lose customers to other operating system manufacturers.

    I will admit that I have had the chance to review Vista (though I did have to upgrade my test computer in order to do so) and I find good and bad in it. But that also went with the previous versions of their operating systems. They gave away (I’m sure) the o/s on those machines, not the machines themselves (that I’m sure was a way for people to experience the pros and cons of both Acer and AMD) so that they could hopefully work out most of the bugs in Vista, and to get the feedback to make sure Vista was truely ready to go to market by January 31, 2007.

    One pro of the new Vista is the Areo Glass “see-thru” windows, though it is very reminisent of the old Poly Windows that I used to work with many ages ago, and of which I truely enjoyed the flexibility of being able to see what was in the background that I was working on at the same time.

    One con is that the new Vista requires VERY updated/extreme/sophisticated hardware in order to have a very good experience with it. To me, a company that improves a product so much that the ‘normal’ every day user can’t afford to run it is like cutting ones own throat. The retail version of the Vista Ultimate version has a MSRP of $399! Then on top of the o/s cost itsself you must make sure you have the hardware to run not only it, but other programs as well for the multi tasker.

    As I had said before, my businees is in a predominately farming community and these people are very wary of computers themselves, so the cost for them to buy a new system with the Windows Vista loaded onto it has met with very adverse desire for them. I can see from that alone my businees will suffer greatly, as will other small computer building/selling businesses. As for myself, would I recommend the new Vista? Only to those that I know could afford it due to the fact that now Vista has become a reality which means that other computer related hardware/software/peripherals will now be geared towards it and will (more than likely) not function on older computers or Microsoft operating systems, like we saw happen with the introcuction of Windows XP.

    If you take a look at the prices of the new major companies offerings for the systems that will be able to run Vista, you will see a great price increase over when they were only able to offer and run pcs with even XP. I myself, as a small business find the price of Vista to be prohibitive, as will other small computer companies, and I can see many of them losing their businesses over the cost they have to pay out compared to the major brands, so as for the helping to build small bisnesses grow goes, well, the American dream of owning a computer related small business will take a servere hit, at least until the prices (and perhaps the hardware requirements) come down.

    One last thing, and this is to Microsoft if they’re reading this, please reconsider your MSRP and try trimming your hardware requirements so that the average person and small business can be better equipped monetarily to ‘reveiw’ Vista themselves.

    Thank You for reading yet another post.

  125. The Comp is nice but as far as you have said their is no controversy. Look its just like getting paid for your job. Or may be it can help Microsoft lose some of there “PIRATED” money

  126. “Bloggers like Brandon put a lot of hard work into their blogs and most of the time receive little or no reimbursement for their highly valuable work. I wouldn’t think it would be inappropriate at all, in fact only fair that these bloggers deserve to keep these machines as ‘rewards’.”

    I am in security business and would never hire someone who has such a high sense of entitlement.

    You started blogging knowing full well the “rewards” and later decide, when someone put a big carrot in front of you, that you are entitle to more.

    Maybe politicians should continue to follow your example because we all know the “rewards” they accept from lobbyists will never influence their vote…

  127. It will be lovely to receive a free laptop with Windows Vista from Microsoft for the same will embrance and support my living and that of my poor family.

    Francis Bwalya,
    House no-5 Gwembe RD.
    Kansenshi.
    Ndola.
    Zambia.
    C. Africa

  128. hey like the look of the ferrari laptop its different and hope i amlucky to get one even thow i cant afford it. it would be a dream to get one…..

  129. This makes no sence to me Were the bloggers bashing the company or were they talking it up? I blog about microsoft all over the place pretty much raising the potential buyers and yet they dont send me a free Laptop, Hell I brag about them, And pretty much every thing I believe is “the best.” So where is my Laptop, where is my free internet, where is my free Anything hell I would settle for a free laptop with slow speed average memory with a free internet server, hell provide me with that and Ill post 50 blogs a day 300 days a year.

    As long as I aint paying for it! Ill do it for free, lets see the missed benefit of that, lol, but my chances of that happening are about the same as Bill Gates giving me 1billion dollars. So this message is tottaly worthless to me but hey maby sombody will take a chance, not.

  130. I have a big problem with my purchased ferrari 1000 and vista ultimate 64. There’s no WLAN running. Can any of the bloggers help me with that ? I tried evrything from installing the current Vista Drivers to installing XP Drivers n compatibility mode. Acer Support has no help for me but saying the drivers will be released in the future ?!? Did you test WLAN on the boxes ?

  131. I think most of the people that have a problem with this are the people that didn’t get one and those that did get one are still complaining about it for the sake of complaining. Pathetic and cynical bunch. Its a gift, write about it or don’t, your choice. Keep it or give it away, your choice. Stop being grown up babies about it.

  132. microsoft is pretty cool except with the new windows vista. I simply dont understand what they had in mind. Making the os program more secure? sure more secure than the x-box that was achieved. Well other improvements which are beneficial are the microsoft office 07 now all the programs are designed just perfectly on that I will have to give props to microsoft.

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