Microsoft - Give Us Back Those Laptops


Seems Microsoft wants their laptops back or they want the recipients to give them away after 'reviewing' them. Less than 24 hours after news surfaced that Microsoft was giving laptops to bloggers, Marshall Kirkpatrick was told that the Ferrari 1000 was for 'review purposes'.

I strongly recommend you disclose that we sent you this machine for review, and I hope you give your honest opinions. Just to make sure there is no misunderstanding of our intentions I’m going to ask that you either give the pc away or send it back when you no longer need it for product reviews.

Microsoft is all for disclosure. And ineptitude.



Yeah, let me give that PC away to myself, yeah, that's the ticket.

Reminds me of back in the day when I was on the list of people always being invited up to MS for various things. They tended to provide free lunch for everyone so imagine the looks of shock and horror among the vegetarians, kosher Jews and so forth one time when just about every dish on the lunch buffet had some meat in it, mostly ham.


They never learn do they?

Standard practice

For the print publications I worked for in a universe long ago and far away, a reviewer would never be allowed to keep the products reviewed. Accepting payola in any form was considered a breach of editorial integrity.

The problem here is that while there is great wisdom in the blogosphere as a whole, individual bloggers are self-appointed and not necessarily familiar with traditional journalistic ethics. An ideal that is assumed as normal by some comes as a surprise to others when it is spelled out.

Bottom line: Bill is right that MS didn't think this one through very well.

New Motto

Microsoft how can we make ourselves look stupid today ...

Is it Microsoft or the PR Firm that is at fault here?

Per the original article referenced in the TW post:

last week I received an email from Edelman, the PR firm who is handling the launch of Windows Vista, letting me know that Microsoft is sending me a present in the form of a laptop with Windows Vista installed on it, no strings attached.

I guess those strings were attached....


It has to be Microsoft. They hired the PR firm, they supplied the gear. Zipatoni got busted creating a bogus site for Sony, but it was Sony that took the heat. I find it hard to believe that there's no communication going on between MS and their PR firm. I may be wrong, but if MS isn't demanding communication, who is at fault?

Another version of the "terms"

“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.”

... apparently the give back, or giveaway was simply a suggestion... in this version anyway.

DG, I See Your Point .But When You Pay Someone To Do a Job

for you, you expect them to be the experts in the field... So Walmart is to blame for the Flogs? Or was their PR firm to blame for suggesting the tactics that weren't kosher. When a company hires an SEO firm who gets them banned for spamming, is the hiring company a spammer or is the company they hired spammers? When you hire experts, you expect the experts to know what they say they know because you trust their expert status.

I agree

Both parties are at fault. But here's how I envision this situation:

First, this kind of transaction doesn't take place with a phone call. Several meetings take place. First, within MS, all internal stuff. Email and Powerpoints are traded back and forth. Different PR firms are tossed around. PR firms are flown in for initial evaluations. More internal meetings for MS. The MS committee finally signs off on agreeing to let PR Firm X handle the job. Line item added to budget. PR firm is contacted. Several meetings take place within the PR firm. PR Firm flies in to make a presentation. More internal meetings for MS. MS flies out to the PR firm with their recs.

More internal meetings for the PR firm. They fly back to MS with their revised proposal, etc, and on and on.

The MS committee finally signs off on the project. Contracts are signed. PR firm implements. Failure! MS assumes plausible denial stance... ;)

LOL! So true.

But notice, that the referenced piece in Kyleirwin's comment was from a Windows Vista employee and that the original email that Scott got was from an Endelman employee and did not include the disclosure.

I was never sent the second part of this information where he says “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.” It would have been really helpful to have had this information in advance since all along I had been planning on giving it away/donating the laptop after I was done testing it. The original email from Edelman made it seem more like a gift, which is why it think there was this big uproar about ethics and integrity.

Indeed - if I worked for

Indeed - if I worked for Edelman, I would be very pissed off with
Aaron Coldiron for helping push this into being the PR disaster it is.

Directive: Minimize Collateral Damage...

If I were working for MS or the marketing company, as soon as the ethics and other questions starting to come out, I would have put out a simple directive: "Minimize Collateral Damage and say nothing yet".

What this means is, be silent. Send out an email, a package, whatever after a few days of reading the fall out, praise, etc. that takes it all in stride. In some ways they could have treated much like the alternate reality games...

Mysterious computer arrives. Note comes a few days latter. Perhaps something like the vanishing point game:

Then even if the stunt had issues, at least they could claim it was intended to generate buzz/interest both good and bad.

Anyway, that would be my 10 cents.

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