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Microsoft’s Goofy Laptop Giveaway

Horrors! Microsoft gave a bunch of free laptops loaded with Vista to bloggers, possibly in an attempt to influence them! (Wait, if you don’t like that story, here’s another and another and another.... You know, there were a lot of them. A LOT. You might have heard about this already....)

For the record, no fancy laptop came addressed to the editor of RCPU. And if one had arrived, we would have sent it back. But there are two funny things about this story. First off, it just doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. Microsoft gave away some laptops with Vista on them. Oooooh, sneaky. When will the abuse of power stop?

Please. I’ve been a journalist in this industry for a while now (not a blogger, mind you -- a journalist), and I’ve had more freebies sent to me than I could ever hope to repackage and stamp “return to sender.” Years ago, I once got a suite of factory-automation software -- not from Microsoft, incidentally. The case it came in held 24 CDs (as, I suppose, it takes 24 CDs of software to automate a factory) and proved very handy for car trips in the pre-iPod era. Sure, an Acer Ferrari laptop is a bit more expensive than the average giveaway, but Microsoft isn’t the average software company.

Second, even though it doesn’t merit anything close to the press coverage it has received (thank the no-news holidays for that, in part), this does seem like an awfully clunky project for a company like Microsoft that’s usually fairly put together with its public relations efforts. Apparently the laptops originally appeared to be “loaners” before somebody at Microsoft’s “other” PR firm (Edelman certainly isn’t the one we deal with most of the time) clarified that, no, they’re yours (although not mine) to keep! The whole thing just seems strange and amateurish and rather surprising to have come out of Redmond. And we’ve wasted too many words in it already. Such is life three days after New Year’s.

Posted by Lee Pender on 01/04/2007 at 1:20 PM


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