I suppose the PR folks at Microsoft thought it a savvy move to send free computers loaded with Vista software to dozens of tech-industry bloggers. But rather than generating glowing reviews, the Redmond software giant’s outreach efforts have created an online controversy, with charges of “payola” and “bribery” flying in all directions.
Microsoft’s efforts to woo influential bloggers by sending them free computers loaded with the Vista operating system is generating controversy, with some online writers attacking would-be Vista reviewers for taking what were tantamount to bribes, while recipients defend their editorial independence, arguing that journalism-style rules prohibiting such gifts are outdated.
[…] In total, Microsoft and AMD gave away 90 PCs, all loaded with the highest-end version of Windows Vista, the 64-bit Ultimate edition. Most received Acer Ferrari laptops that list for between US$2,000 and $2,400 at retail stores. Others received media center desktops made by Velocity Micro Inc.
Microsoft says it has “no expectation of any editorial payback,” and some of the bloggers who have benefited from the company’s largesse argue that professional journalism ethics simply don’t apply in an online world where many bloggers could not afford to review products if they had to pay for them themselves.
Hmm. If Microsoft were to send me a new Acer Ferrari laptop, I suppose I would be faced with quite an ethical quandary. On the one hand, accepting such a gift might compromise my credibility when writing about Microsoft or its new operating system. On the other hand my current laptop, a time-worn Apple iBook, is now over five years old.
So I guess the only way for me to adequately consider this controversy and determine for myself and my readers on which side I fall, is for Microsoft to send me a free computer too. Personally, I’d prefer a new MacBook Pro. (I understand that Vista runs fine within a copy of Parallels Desktop for Mac.) But I guess I’d take one of those Acer laptops if that’s all you have lying around.
So, hey Microsoft, drop me an email and I’ll give you my shipping address. And I absolutely promise you… no editorial payback.