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Microsoft

Microsoft Promotions Turn Up in USPS Offices 496

Posted by timothy
from the public-display-of-affection dept.
Several readers, like this Anonymous Coward, have written with links to a letter from Cliff Crouch on macintouch.com. "I stumbled across this letter submitted to a web site I frequent. Apparently Microsoft has promotional displays with free WindowsXP promotional software in U.S. Post Offices."
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Microsoft Promotions Turn Up in USPS Offices

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  • Well, they probably put it in the post office to capture back the customers they lost when their email went down from receiving too many files "to have your advice." They want to get a chance to recapture their customers when they head off to the post office to send their mail that way instead.
    • They got those customers back as soon as the people realized getting "files for advice" in the mail is much less worse than getting powder [slashdot.org].
    • Well, they probably put it in the post office to capture back the customers they lost when their email went down from receiving too many files "to have your advice."

      But could it be that Microsoft is giving you WinXP "to have your advice" on it?
  • Here's the reason (Score:3, Insightful)

    by flynt (248848) on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @09:44PM (#2885644)
    For better or worse, the US government is large. In fact, it is HUGE. It would be impossible for every decision to be internally consistent in any organziation this size. This is why you always see those exposes on ABC and the like saying Branch A of govt does this and that while Branch B seems to be doing someething flying in the face of it. Its not necessarily that the govt. are hypocrites, all it is is a aggregate of people like you and I. So in this case, its not really the worst thing in the world. And what happend to "innocent until proven guilty"?
    • by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @09:50PM (#2885676) Homepage
      And what happend to "innocent until proven guilty"?

      MS has been proven guilty -- the only thing under review is what the penalty will be.
    • Re:Here's the reason (Score:2, Informative)

      by MisterQueue (173254)
      Actually the Postal Service isn't owned by the gov't, it is regulated by them but it works more like a franchise. Each sector is run by an owner who has to follow the regulations of the gov't who comes in and checks up regularly. (Sort of like a food inspection I suppose.) Only reason I know any of this is because my dad has been working for them for about 20 years now.

      -Q
      • Re:Here's the reason (Score:3, Informative)

        by idiotnot (302133)
        Actually, the Postal Service is wholly owned by the Government, but run as a private corporation. The Federal Government is the only shareholder, and thus elects the board, etc. etc. Government corporations are not at all uncommon....many cities and school divisions (colleges, too) operate exactly the same way.
  • No... (Score:3, Redundant)

    by BrianGa (536442) on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @09:45PM (#2885646)
    It's not the fact that they are giving away Demos, it's the place that the demos are being placed. A tie-in with a US Government agency is new.
    • Re:No... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by RealTimeFreeAgent (551563) on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @09:48PM (#2885666) Homepage
      The US Post Office is a semi-private agency. It's entirely self funded, but there is congressional oversight.

      The Post Office, due to poor management, is running a _BILLION_ dollar deficit right now. So it's no surprise to me that the USPS is looking for other sources of funding. Basically, it's either this, raise the price of stamps (something they proposed to Congress and they got slapped down for), or a hefty government bailout at taxpayer expense.
    • Demos of XP?
      Is this a fully functional version of XP which will upgrade your machine from win9X/2K/whatever to XP and work for 14 days then force you to buy it? or is it just the equivalent of a pretty shockwave animation.

      If it is the former, wouldnt it trick a few people into paying for XP when they dont actually need it? just because the messages say "buy me or lose your work" ?
  • Lets all get our burners going and set up our own dump boxes next to the XP ones. Hehe, I would love to see people picking through trying to find their favorite "flavor" of linux.

    With my luck with moderators I will prob end up with -500 notfunnygoburninhell for this, but what the hell, I think it is a great mental picture

  • So what? (Score:2, Redundant)

    by sulli (195030)
    And in other news, you can buy an AT&T prepaid phone card at the post office, and you can book a Hertz rent-a-car via Amtrak. We must save the taxpayers - nay, citizens - from this travesty of justice!

    Seriously, who cares? I bet if RHAT paid USPS enough, they'd put their CDs out too.

    • Re:So what? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Hercynium (237328)
      You are 100% correct. My local post office has advertisements posted not just on a bulletin board, but in the office itself. And these aren't all small local companies. I've seen displays for John Hancock Insurance, Bank of Boston (when it used to be BOB), and even _gasp_ Sun Microsystems. (That one was a hiring blitz, they have a big facility nearby.) On top of that the Post office in Lowell sells phone cards from Sprint (or maybe they're AT&T), and even stationary, pens, pencils, binders, etc. The USPS doesen't generate revenue from stamps alone.

      What annoys me about this story is that someone considers this news... Hey timothy, post something I don't know about. (If this were about any of the companies I just mentioned, do you think it would be considered important?)

  • I pick choice #1 (Score:3, Informative)

    by AdamBa (64128) on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @09:47PM (#2885656) Homepage
    And am I simply naive, or is there something profoundly disturbing about such shenanigans going on even as District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly allegedly mulls the proper punishment of the Microsoft Corporation, an illegal monopoly, for violating U.S. antitrust law?

    You're simply naive. Last time I checked advertising was legal, even for Microsoft.

    - adam

    • I personally hope that our post office or other government offices, such as maybe the FBI or IRS, start placing advertisements and "demo" bags of my favorite tea [pbs.org]. I don't really see it as the government supporting their brand of tea but simply as a good way for the East India Tea company to advertise it's tea, which as far as I can tell is legal for them to do.

      How can anyone argue with this simple expression of capitalism?

  • Free XP? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by zmcgrew (265718)
    Perhaps I'm missunderstanding, but M$ is giving Xp away for free?
    Or are they giving software that runs on XP away for free?

    Which one?

    Heh, I wished they'd mail me a new Debian CD... I don't free like burning one... =)
    Oh well, I can suffer 10 Minutes of torturous burning for a lifetime of joy. =)
  • not only that (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Syre (234917) on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @09:48PM (#2885663)
    usps.gov has a marketing deal with Microsoft apparently. Their Web-Based Solutions page [usps.gov], accessable from the main usps.gov page, is "Powered by Microsoft bCentral", and promotes subscriptions to Microsoft services.

    Maybe we need to add "separation of corporation and state" to our "separation of church and state" in the constitution?
    • Re:not only that (Score:3, Interesting)

      by The Man (684)
      Maybe we need to add "separation of corporation and state" to our "separation of church and state" in the constitution?

      This phrase never appears in the constitution. Instead we have "Congress shall make no law regarding the establishment of religion." Which any reasonable person interprets to mean that religions cannot be banned or discriminated against by Congress. It does not mean exactly what Jefferson wrote regarding the separation of church and state, though the ideas are interrelated.

      Now then, "No member of Congress, prospective member of Congress, or agent or representative of same, shall accept consideration from any person or corporation until his term of office shall have expired. Then he may receive consideration only in exchange for goods or services rendered, and only in reasonable compensation at fair-market prices. This prohibition shall begin upon announcing, publicly or otherwise, intention to seek office. Violation shall be punishable by a fine of the greater of one hundred times the value of the consideration accepted or one hundred million dollars. Furthermore, any bill proposed, sponsored, or co-sponsored by said member shall be annulled, and stricken from the United States Code, and that member's vote on all matters which passed before the member shall be null and void." might be a nice start.

      • Re:not only that (Score:3, Informative)

        The full clause is:

        Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

        Reasonable people from Jefferson on have interpreted that to mean two things: first, that the government cannot promote or support any religion, and second, as you say, that the government cannot ban or discriminate any religion. Like much of the Constitution, the First Amendment is a masterpiece of balance. Freedom of and freedom from religion are inseparable.

        Any other interpretation is not only unreasonable, but ahistorical -- remember that the people who wrote the Constitution had rather graphic examples of the horrors of state-supported religion within living memory. These days, at least in the US, we've largely forgotten how dangerous it can be.

    • Re:not only that (Score:2, Insightful)

      by wadetemp (217315)
      The post office is not really part of the government, but rather a business run to support an important country function. Regardless of how its set up, it's a business nontheless. There's nothing illegal or even really that strange about this. In fact, the government has thier hands in other businesses much more than they do in the Post Office's. (Enron, for example.)
      • by Erris (531066) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @01:07AM (#2886363) Homepage Journal
        The post office is not really part of the government but rather a business run to support an important country function.

        What part of "United States Post Office" don't you understand? That the civil servants are employed by the Federal Government?

        There are many makers of software in this great country and I'm sure none of them apprecite their tax dollars being used to support Microsoft. Don't you remember half of them testifying against M$ over the last few years? Well, gee there it is being promoted in a maner that some people will take as offial US sponsorship. It stinks. Were any of them offered the same oppertunity? Would it even be possible to fit all the material there? 30 Linux distros, 45 BSDs, AOL, Sun, HP, Compaq. There would not be room to stand.

        Let's look at another thing "powering" the US post office by way of compairison. Jeeps. You see them all over, as they won bids on an open market. The Post Office Jeeps were stripped of all insignia and were only recognizable by their form. No cardboard cut outs recomending the purchase of Jeeps ever kept the sun from shining through a USPO window. No "test drives" were ever offered. Instead, Jeep was happy to be making the sale and the use was recomendation enough. The USPO had no intentions of recomending one automobile maker over another.

        Go to Netcraft, you will see that most US government sites do NOT run M$ trash.

        So my wife asks me, "why would they bother to promote M$, a company that needs no promotion." Might the settlement be nationalization? Oh shit.

        • by XorNand (517466)

          Technically, the USPS is a corporation wholly owned by the US government, but not actually part of it.
          It's been this way since July 1, 1971 since the passage of the Postal Reorganization Act. Prior to then, the Postmaster General was a Presidential Cabinet level position (might come in handy if you ever make it onto the Millionaire show.)

          Some other changes:
          - Operational authority vested in a Board of Governors and Postal Service executive management, rather than in Congress.

          -Authority to issue public bonds to finance postal buildings and mechanization.

          -Direct collective bargaining between representatives of management and the unions.

          -A new rate-setting procedure, built around an independent Postal Rate Commission.

          (If you're really interested, check out a bit of history [usps.gov] on the USPS.)
      • Re:not only that (Score:3, Informative)

        by mpe (36238)
        The post office is not really part of the government, but rather a business run to support an important country function.

        Governments frequently set up organisations to do things which are eseential for their territory (and it's economy) to operate effectivly. Even if they superficially appear to be businesses the rules they operate under may be different. e.g. not having to maximise profit for shareholders, exemptions from planning laws, etc.
    • A separation of church and state is not defined in the Constitution, nor in the ammendments. It's slightly implied, but not really stated clearly. Rather, it was an idea put forth by Thomas Jefferson and people have taken it to heart as he was one of the largest players in the development of the US in those early years.
  • by kimba (12893) on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @09:48PM (#2885664)
    Here in Australia, anyone can stick things in post offices if they pay for it. There are all sorts of brochures and things, plus most of the larger ISPs and phone companies have free samplers and recharge kits there.

    I assume Microsoft's deal isn't an exclusive arrangement?
    • Well, it looks like we here in the USA are asleep at the switch. We've actually let another country beat us in finding new venue that can be sold out. This is supposed to be our core competency.
  • so what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dr. Awktagon (233360) on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @09:49PM (#2885671) Homepage

    I hate M$ same as everybody else but who cares? They paid some dough and the post office put up a display. Anybody could do it if they had the money.

    The Post Office isn't some holy place, it's barely connected with the government, and hasn't received any tax dollars since Nixon. It's basically a private organization.

    When you see Windows product placement in, say, a courtroom, that's when I'd start to worry....

    • Soon to come for US Postal Service:

      - Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer special edition collectable stamps. Special $1.50 versions: their eyes follow you around the room.

      - Windows 3.1 commemorative phone cards ("Relive the special magic of that release with every call you make!")

      - Collector's Edition Outlook Virus Stamps. 24 special full-color postage stamps illustrating your favorite Outlook-spread viruses. Collect 'em all!

      - Special "Blue Screen of Death" postcards. Nothing but white hex numbers on a field of blue, and you can't write on them. $5.00 for a set of 20.
      • Well for a second there I thought you wrote

        Windows 3.1 commemorative phone cards ("Relieve the special magic with every call you make!")

        and realized it would make sense over the stalls in the washrooms..but that I wouldn't want to be around when some other guy was "relieving" his *magic* in a public restroom..
      • Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer special edition collectable stamps

        And if they did issue such a stamp some people would have a problem getting them to stick as they would spit on the wrong side.
    • Re:so what? (Score:2, Funny)

      by rebug (520669)
      "This trial is brought to you by windows xp(tm)...eXPerience the difference!"
    • Isn't there something in the Constitution about Separation of Church and State?
      • Isn't there something in the Constitution about Separation of Church and State?

        No. This is a common myth held even by fairly well educated people. The "Seperation of Church and State" is simply a oft repeated concept that is currently being followed. A couple of centuries ago, it was "Manifest Destiny", and the US thought they had the moral imperitive to take all land west to the Pacific.

        The closest thing that applies is the constitutional prohibition against establishing an official religion at the federal level, something that does not imply any form of seperation. Thus the "In God we Trust" on our bills, and a National Cathedral, chaplains in the US Armed services, etc. Religion is part of many people's lives, and a tolerance for religion is as important as a tolerance for those who do not choose religion.

        --
        Evan

    • by ChrisCampbell47 (181542) on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @11:23PM (#2886073)
      The Post Office isn't some holy place, it's barely connected with the government

      The post office is the sole official physical presence of the U.S. federal government countrywide.

      Where do you go to "register" for the Selective Service (the draft)? The post office.

      Where do you go to get federal tax forms? The post office is required to supply them.

      Sure, some municipalities may have an FBI or ATF branch office, or even a Secret Service office, but the USPS is the main federal presence in EVERY town. It is the face of the US Government for most.

    • Re:so what? (Score:5, Informative)

      by FattMattP (86246) on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @11:56PM (#2886155) Homepage
      The Post Office isn't some holy place, it's barely connected with the government, and hasn't received any tax dollars since Nixon. It's basically a private organization.
      Whether it has received any tax dollars or not is irrelevant. It's part of the government. Did you notice their domain was usps.gov? Did you know that it is illegal to attempt to compete against the USPS with mail delivery under the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 39, Chapter 1, Sec. 310.2, paragraph (a) [gpo.gov]? Those regulations are only suspended for mail that is considered "urgent" and "critial" but only if it's being delivered more than 50 miles away from where it's sent. In those cases, companies can compete but they are required by law to charge more than the USPS would, even if the USPS can do it cheaper. Read about it in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 39, Chapter 1, Sec. 320.6, paragraph (c) [gpo.gov]. Did you know that the Postal Service is exempt from property taxes? They are exempt from parking tickets as well. They even have their own law enforcement branch [usps.gov] with badges and guns.

      Sounds like government to me, warts and all.

  • by Orangedog_on_crack (544931) on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @09:51PM (#2885684)
    Well, okay maybe it's not hell yet, but I'll know I'm in hell when the Johova's Witnesses start going door to door and handing out MS CD-ROM's.
  • Did I read that correctly? Who would actually demo an OS?... they are not exactly the easiest thing to uninstall (maybe that is the rub after the "demo period" ends... for only $99 you can restore your PC to working condition).

    It still is a very strange marketing ploy when you consider WHY people upgrade OSes... it is generally not an impulse move. Half the outboard hardware on my DAW is not yet supported by XP.
  • by smartin (942) on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @09:53PM (#2885696)
    The post office is crawling with viruses these days.
  • so why not produce a nice pile of SuSE cd's and have the "dump" say , not a demo the full real operating system... Linux! for FREE!" I'd suggest redhat but that takes 2 cd's now, and slackware is too technical.

    that'll take a helluva lot of steam out of microsoft's campain.
  • The Real Reason? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by e1en0r (529063)
    Why would the Post Office let a competitor advertise in their building? I'm sure whoever uses XP will use email, which means less snail mail for the Post Office to deliver.

    So ... is the government trying to decrease the public's need for snail mail so they can lay off postal workers, or are they smart enough to know that XP is such a poor, insecure excuse for an OS that they know it'll crash and people will go back to snail mail and increase their business?
  • by Rothfuss (47480) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (ssufhtor.sirhc)> on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @09:54PM (#2885704) Homepage
    The CDs are free. Take them all.

    Once you have a few hundred of them, you can gather them together with the myriad AOL CDs in your drawer and enjoy a nice day of CD Craft Fun as suggested here [makestuff.com], here [neosoft.com] and here [essortment.com].

    Good luck.

    -Rothfuss
    • Re:Take them all. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Andrewkov (140579)
      Actually, I could use them as coasters in my living room. That would make a cool conversation piece!
    • Re:Take them all. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Yottabyte84 (217942)
      Would someone who's felt bold enough to walk off with all the free aol/earthlink/whatever cds in a store please post about the experiance?
      • Re:Take them all. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by afedaken (263115)
        At the place that I work, we've been using (UGH!) AOL for corporate e-mail, cuz it's fairly easy to use, and they've got POPs everywhere.

        Users manage to munge up thier software on a fairly regular basis. this isn't helped by the bloatware that aol calls a client.

        In addition they're constantly losing the discs that we leave at the sites, so I go and grab a stack of 30 or so it seems about once every other month.

        At the local Wawa (a Philadelphia area chain of conveinence stores) the GM won't let me take them.

        At the CompUSA, they're just glad to be rid of the things.

        When I couldn't find them at the OfficeMax, the clerk went into the back room, and gave me an entire sealed box of the discs. Of course, we do a lot of business with that office max, so I suppose YMMV.
  • by cgleba (521624) on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @09:55PM (#2885710)
    I really don't care if MS advertises in post offices. What piques my curiosity, though, is what were / are government agencies' policies on advertising?

    I know that the MA Registry now allows advertising at their sites (somthing for people to look at during the long waits). It wasn't that way too long ago. . .

    I have never seen an advertisment in a post office that did not either promote USPS's services or was somthing about taxes.

    Was this by design, or was it that no one thought of advertising in a post office before :)? Could an advertsising policy cause bias in a government agency like campaign contributions cause in politics?

    It's not radical or life-changing, but it does have a large curiosity factor that I could not find much info on. . .
    • ... what were / are government agencies' policies on advertising?
      The United States Postal Service [usps.com] is not part of the United States government. It's (in effect) a private company, with a contract from the government to deliver mail.
      • $ wget -O - www.usps.gov
        --18:32:27-- http://www.usps.gov/
        => `-'
        Connecting to www.usps.gov:80... connected!
        HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 200 OK
        Length: unspecified [text/html]

        0K -><!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN">
        <HTML>

        <HEAD>
        <META HTTP-EQUIV="Content-Type" CONTENT="text/html; charset=UTF-8">
        <TITLE>USPS - The United States Postal Service (U.S. Postal Service)</TITLE>
  • Who cares? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by caspper69 (548511)
    I saw this display, and now after reading this post I must ask, "What does it matter?" It's not as if MS is advertising in your local city hall or courthouse. It's the post office... A branch of the government that isn't responsible for anything remotely important (yes, I realize mail delivery is important, but it's not going to make or break my life/freedom either way).

    Not only that, but it's a branch of the government that's entirely self-sufficient. Not one red cent comes from taxpayers. So again I ask, what does it matter?
  • by BreakWindows (442819) on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @10:00PM (#2885731) Homepage
    Man, the "devious" flag just raised on this one. Maybe I can grab all the CD's, bring them home and burn new ones, chock full'of nice little additions...viruses, bugs, flaws; then put them back, shrinkwrapped and ready to go. "Hello, Microsoft? I just installed this XP promo and every time I boot up it invokes the name of Satan". Or, "sweet jesus, what's with all the penguins on my screen!?". Hey, maybe something as simple as a new office assistant that offers advice every 15 seconds.

    And for the smartasses...yes, new bugs over the ones already on there. I guess this would work with those AOL promo's too...but since no one would ever install those (as they already have 500) it wouldn't be as fulfilling.
    • Looks like you're trying to be funny on Slashdot! Office assistant can help you be a better karma whore! What would you like to do?
      • Worship Linux
      • Bash Microsoft some more
      • Try to get a first post
      • Claim *BSD is dying
      • Close this window
  • Advertising with the post office isn't new. Ever change your address? This is hardly noteworthy.

    The postal worker in the article says that FedEx and UPS are doing the same thing. Why should the USPS not take a check to provide ad space?

    It'll help keep stamps cheap.

  • by Restil (31903)
    The USPS is a business like any other. Sure, they have some governmental influence, both ways, but if someone wants to pay them to put up posters.... why not?

    And besides.. asking clerks about it won't get you very far. I'm surprised that your post office wasn't so busy that the clerk actually had enough time to ask you if there was anything else you needed.

    -Restil
  • by Rothfuss (47480) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (ssufhtor.sirhc)> on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @10:06PM (#2885763) Homepage

    I'm looking forward to the "Great Operating Systems of the 20th Century" stamp series sponsored by Microsoft.

    There will be stamps celebrating such great operating systems as

    Windows 3
    Windows 3.1
    Windows 3.11
    Windows NT 3.5
    Windows NT 3.51
    Windows NT 4.0
    Windows 95
    Windows 98
    and
    Windows 2000

    Then of course there will be a variety of service packs for the 1 cent stamps.

    -Rothfuss

    • Windows 3
      Windows 3.1
      Windows 3.11
      Windows NT 3.5
      Windows NT 3.51
      Windows NT 4.0
      Windows 95
      Windows 98
      and
      Windows 2000


      Aieee.... how could you forget about the flagship stamp: Bob [telecommander.com]?

      I can think of no better stamp to use on any "cancellation of service" letter to MS than Bill Gates' alter ego =)
    • You forgot that wonderful Windows NT 3.1 it's the one that made me start using OS/2. Thank gawd Linux grew up as IBM is putting the nails in OS/2.

      To bad only the BeOS came close to working as well as OS/2 but today, Linux is still better than Windows ANYTHING. That's not saying much but Linux does rock. IMHO.

      Does anybody else laugh at every "flag" Microsoft thows up to show the press it's listening? Security is the latest flag but that's really funny since it'll require a rewrite if every application they sell since there is no difference between Windows the OS and Microsoft Applications.

      Oh, where is Windows Millenium? And don't forget DOS 4.x, that was a "great" OS just as all the other Windows OS's. ;/

      LoB
  • Granted I have been a redhat critic of late but I do have a serious question. what tools or help does redhat give to linux advocates to "get the word out". can I request 100 bulk CD's to give out? how about tri-fold pamphlets? MS is marketing like mad and the largest Linux purveyor sits quietly and only advertises in technical journals or the linux mag's.

    what if my LUG wants to stand on corners and give out linux cd's? I agree that RH7.2 is the easiest that even a non-computer user can install and use it.

    so what can I do to get it out there? and if redhat wont help what other distros will help by supplying bulk cd's? anyone?
  • by Mac Nazgul (196332) on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @10:15PM (#2885799)
    PR release:

    Microsoft announced today the acquisition of the United Postal Service. "It's a great innovation, that we know our customers will enjoy. Instead of being hassled by paper communication, our MSN and Hotmail service will provide all means of communication for the people of the US in a safe and secure way." said Microsoft's co-founder Bill Gates.
    While many questions have risen regarding the ethical and legal considerations, Microsoft was confident of the acceptance of their new program. With a surprise backer in the federal government, Microsofts program received considerable support from a Mr. DCS1000. Security considerations also came into play with the recent anthrax scares.
    The program launches tomorrow, with the initial transfer of all US citizens to the new MS PassportPlus for national identification (Win95/NT/98/2000/XP compatible). A new email activation program will also initiate, offering enhanced security against terrorist hackers sendign unauthorized digital signals.
  • by Quarters (18322) on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @10:16PM (#2885805)
    Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny, Wile E. Coyote. They're all there. They've done that for years.

    I've seen American Express application forms at the Post Office for as long as I can remember.

    I really don't see much wrong with this.
  • Regardless (Score:3, Insightful)

    by iGawyn (164113) on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @10:22PM (#2885830) Homepage Journal
    Regardless of your opinions of Microsoft, it's advertising. AOL has done the same for years, leaving their CDs or floppy disks everywhere imaginable.

    So MS puts posters in CDs into a USPS office? Big deal. It's not like you can argue that the USPS is a government office and the government is promoting it, the USPS is a government-contracted company, just look it up in your history book.

    If the USPS agrees to hang the signs, then they're there. Personally, either someone will or won't upgrade, and a nifty poster in a post office won't influence too many people, and certainly not the type who would use Linux.

    Call me a troll for not flaming Microsoft, but it's just marketing, not monopolistic business tactics. And hell, maybe the cost of postage will go down with the money that MS gives the USPS for putting the posters.

    Gawyn
    • Re:Regardless (Score:5, Insightful)

      by elmegil (12001) on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @10:58PM (#2885986) Homepage Journal
      it's just marketing, not monopolistic business tactics.

      And exactly where did the article say it was monopolistic business practices?

      Seems to me everyone is bitching because of the blatant conflict of interest on the part of the government. "One hand is suing you, the other hand is selling you advertising space that isn't apparently being sold to any other advertiser."

  • by Ukab the Great (87152) on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @10:24PM (#2885840)
    Usually when you see posters on post offices, they feature people who steal valuable resources from citizens or cause them irreperable harm. Usually these people are regarded as being extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all costs

    I'd say that adequately pegs XP.
  • Why do you suppose the post office is advertising for Microsoft? Is it a conspiracy designed to kill Linux?

    No, the truth is, Microsoft can advertise Windows XP because they have a large advertising budget. Linux doesn't get advertised nearly as much because Red Hat, Debian, Suse, Slackware, etc. are all operating on a very thin profit margin and can't afford the kind of advertising that Microsoft can.

    Now, the question as to whether the US Postal System should endorse or provide a venue for the promotion of Windows XP is another issue altogether. But it is important to realize that without Microsoft's advertising budget, this wouldn't ever have happened.
  • Cant Get It Off (Score:2, Informative)

    by didyaseethat (539691)
    These XP demo's will "upgrade" your current 9x/2k install. This works great untill your free demo is up, and then you get the forced online authentication, exactly the same as if you didn't register a purchased version. Of course, since you cannot do anything with your computer aside from get the must register message you are officially SOL. Format and re-install, without any chance to back up your stuff. At least that is the story with my roomates PC.
  • by Jeremi (14640) on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @10:44PM (#2885926) Homepage
    like a bunch of startled dugongs, or are you going to burn a batch of Linux install CDs and swap them with the XP demo disks? Use one of those "we make it look as much like Windows as possible" distributions, and you might just get away with it, too.
  • by Quixote (154172) on Tuesday January 22, 2002 @10:51PM (#2885947) Homepage Journal
    The USPS does not get any money from the taxpayers. They have to earn everything themselves. Since 9/11, the USPS has lost Billions of dollars in lost revenue, anthrax hassles, etc. They have to make up the money somewhere! If Micro$oft came to them and offered them a large amount of money to put up such display cases, I'm all for it!
    BTW: the USPS does a tremendous job for the amount they charge for the postage. Have you looked at first-class postage rates in Europe?
  • Does an XP CD glow after being irradiated [slashdot.org]? Or does it just melt?

    I'm melting! Melting!
  • What if, during the period that the US and several states were suing the Tobacco companies, the big 5 had setup free giveaway kiosks inviting people to "Visit Flavor Country"?

    - JoeShmoe

    .
  • "Postal Ad Network" (Score:5, Informative)

    by Animats (122034) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @12:38AM (#2886261) Homepage
    The U.S. Postal Service now sells advertising space. They call it the "Postal Ad Network" [usps.com]. The USPS writes:
    • Success Sells.

      For over 200 years, the United States Postal Service is the brand that has been built on trust and service.

      Now we're selling our unique space. Think of us as your Multi-channel Communications Service. Marketers can get the visibility and reach through the Postal Ad Network.

      Place your big message on our trucks, collection boxes and even in our postal facilities. Or small space ads on our stamp packages and banner ads on our website.

    So it may get worse; there may be Microsoft ads on USPS trucks next.

    There's opposition [commercialalert.org] to the USPS selling out like this.

  • by ZoneGray (168419) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @01:24AM (#2886415) Homepage
    Just goes to show what ruthless monopolists they are.

    Microsoft isn't so nice, either.
  • by vex24 (126288) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @02:08AM (#2886562) Homepage
    Maybe it's just because I'm drunk, but I think the USPS are a bunch of filthy whores already anway... The damn change-of-address cards come with 25 advertisements, and the first thing they do with your new address is send it out to all the local spammers anyway... The USPS will do anything to keep from laying off excess employees, which is a bit noble if you think of it that way... Now stay away from my wife! No, I'm just kidding, you're my best friend... really, I mean that... just kidding about that... G'night people!
  • Nice spin (Score:3, Funny)

    by Chris Johnson (580) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @02:10AM (#2886575) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft Windows XP: It's Not Just A Good Idea, It's The Government

    :D

  • by detritus. (46421) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @02:16AM (#2886610)
    After working in the shipping business, I learned quickly how the USPS is the government equivalent of Microsoft. Try sending an overnight letter via UPS or Federal Express to a PO Box. It can't be done. Why? Simple: The USPS forces senders to use their mail services.
    When you are a business with no competition, you have no reason to improve. IMO, anybody would be crazy to send something of crucial value or importance via any postal service and expect the same service as a private equivalent (UPS/FedEx/Airbourne).
    They are a corporate monopoly with government protection. Not to mention, the only government agency I have seen that runs TV ads ("Fly Like An Eagle" crap).
  • by i1984 (530580) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @03:54AM (#2886860)
    The advertisement of Microsoft software in the United States Post Office should be subject to public policy review, irrespective of the Postals Service's technical corporate status.

    Microsoft is a convicted monopolist that has shown no remorse for its actions, and scarcely acknowledges that it has done any wrong. Ideally, the government would not be helping to pormote this malignancy.

    It has been repeated many times throughout this discussion, first that the Post Office is part of the US government, only to have that assertion contradicted to the effect that the Postal Service is actually an independant corporation established and run by the government -- posters have also pointed out that the Federal Government is the sole shareholder, appoints the directors, and as needed bails the service out to the tune of a billion dollars.

    All this is missing the point: the government shouldn't be helping spread the monopoly even if the post office is technically independent. The service still answers to Congress, and does arguably more so than most other businesses. This sort of issue is well within the domain of public policy -- even if no policies currently exist that are relevant to this situation.

    In a broader sense, corporations in general also answer to Congress (even in cases like Enron where they'd rather not!), and by extension we regulate all of them in numerous ways as well. In comparison to wholly indepenent and totally private corporations it should be easy to shape a public policy in regards to a pseudo-governmental organization like the post office -- even if it means appointing a board of directors who agree that convicted monopolists shouldn't have the privilege of advertising in Postal Service buildings.

    This is also why this is a relevant Slashdot story. It involves what amounts to a public policy decision (or lack thereof) that affects technology that the Slashdot community cares about: Microsoft, monopolies, the blurred line between the public and private sector, and public policy regarding these topics.

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