Bloggers bash Microsoft again, but where’s the disclosure?

Yawn. This Christmas many bloggers are once again engaged in their previous past-time of Microsoft bashing. And once again many of them are failing to grasp the reality of life outside of their own little blogosphere bubble.

In their eyes Microsoft has committed the sin of offering some bloggers an Acer Ferrari laptop so that the bloggers can write about the new Windows Vista. The posts accuse Microsoft (and poor old Edelman) of ‘astroturfing’ and ‘payola’.

In reality Microsoft has done nothing wrong. The email from Microsoft says:

"…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 to your community, or you can hold onto it for as long as you’d like. Just let me know what you plan to do with it when the time comes."

It strikes me that the moaners and whingers either just don’t get how the world works or are simply jealous that they weren’t one of those honoured with an invitation.

Offering review machines in this way is a totally legitimate activity and very sensible for an operating system. I’d love to be able to have a play with Vista, as I’m currently playing with Office 2007. But I can’t as I don’t have a spare PC powerful enough to run Vista, and I can’t risk it on a work machine. I’ve already blogged about how impressed I am with Office 2007, but I’m yet to be convinced of the benefits of Vista and probably won’t be until I can have a decent go with it. I’m sure lots of the bloggers approached will be in a similar position.

The one thing I might have done differently if I’d been Microsoft’s PR team is to remind the bloggers that it might be a good idea to disclose that they were writing about Vista using a laptop supplied by Microsoft. However, it’s not a deal breaker and certainly doesn’t warrant the pathetic mock anger displayed by some bloggers.


About Stuart Bruce

International communications consultant and PR trainer specialising in online public affairs, digital corporate communications, online PR and social media; frequent national media commentator and conference speaker.
  • http://haloscan.com/tb/flatironnyc/116736556740376688 The Flack

    Hostile La Vista

    Why the big controversy? Without the free loaded-laptop program, how else can the new OS expect to gain trial (and attention) from those viral bloggers? Could it be that bloggers wish to be treated differently? Duh. Had the offer come directly from M…

  • http://commonsensepr.com Eric Eggertson

    It does remind one of the complaints of a sibling that an older sibling is allowed to stay up later at night.

    Like publications, bloggers have the option of establishing policies about the terms under which they will accept freebies, and the disclosure involved. A lot of publications don't come anywhere near disclosing any benefit they receive, probably because they see it as necessary work in order to do their jobs.

  • http://leehopkins.net/2006/12/31/bloggers-bash-microsoft-again-but-wheres-the-disclosure/ Lee Hopkins: Better Communication Results – business communication, online, blog and podcast consultant

    Bloggers bash Microsoft again, but where’s the disclosure?

    Stuart (the) Bruce once again provides a voice of reason in the whole Microsoft/payola unscandal. As Stuart points out, having a go at Microsoft is always easy, but disclosing that one has received a review copy is essential (and not everyone did, nor …

  • http://www.anonymous.com Anonymous

    Is this a subtle, or even not too subtle, attempt to get Microsoft UK to send you a laptop ;)

  • http://profile.typekey.com/stuartbrucepr/ Stuart Bruce – Wolfstar

    Hi Anonymous, no it's not an attempt to get a laptop – for a start Microsoft UK doesn't treat bloggers in the same way as they do in the US where some are treated as a type of journalist.

    And secondly, it hadn't crossed my mind until you suggested it.

    That's not to say I would say no ;)

    P.S. Why are snarky comments usually anonymous? If you're afraid to say it publicly then don't say it at all.

  • http://haloscan.com/tb/flatironnyc/116736556740376688 The Flack

    Hostile La Vista

    Why the big controversy? Without the free loaded-laptop program, how else can the new OS expect to gain trial (and attention) from those viral bloggers? Could it be that bloggers wish to be treated differently? Duh. Had the offer come directly from M…