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It's funny.  Laugh.

Microsoft may Sanction the 'Switcher' PR-Rep 629

Nerull sent in a snippit from The Age saying "Microsoft may consider sanctions against a public relations consultant who tried to pass herself off as someone who had switched from the Apple Mac to Windows XP in a high-profile US advertising campaign, chief executive Steve Ballmer said today." Here is Monday's Slashdot Story that this follows up to. Lots of amusing little quotes about what it means to be trustworthy.
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Microsoft may Sanction the 'Switcher' PR-Rep

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  • Odd indeed. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Zeebs ( 577100 ) <rsdrew@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:31AM (#4477813)
    Anyone think Microsoft may be starting to sound a little like a government. They are proposing 'sanctions' now, next it will be 'peace keeping' and 'police actions'. Perhaps a dark vision of the future to come.

    Ok I'll take my medication now.
    • by meringuoid ( 568297 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:36AM (#4477866)
      Anyone think Microsoft may be starting to sound a little like a government. They are proposing 'sanctions' now, next it will be 'peace keeping' and 'police actions'. Perhaps a dark vision of the future to come.

      If Microsoft are a government, they can have war declared on them.

      So, next time they get found guilty of abusing their monopoly, the judge can give them a penalty that will stick: a squadron of Harriers at 4 am in Redmond... ;-)
      • by darkov ( 261309 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @09:07AM (#4478126)
        If Microsoft are a government, they can have war declared on them.

        I personally favour regieme change.

      • by dracken ( 453199 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @10:20AM (#4478722) Homepage
        Microsoft arent the government, they bought the government. Probably you didnt read this old slashdot article.

        Microsoft buys US Government
        Posted by Cowboyneal on October 23, 1997

        REDMOND, Wash. - 23 October 1997 -- In direct response to accusations made by the Department of Justice, the Microsoft Corp. announced today that it will be acquiring the federal government of the United States of America for an undisclosed sum.

        "It's actually a logical extension of our planned growth", said Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, "It really is going to be a positive arrangement for everyone". Microsoft representatives held a briefing in the oval office of the White House with US President Bill Clinton, and assured members of the press that changes will be "minimal".

        The United States will be managed as a wholly owned division of Microsoft. An initial public offering is planned for July of next year, and the federal government is expected to be profitable by "Q4 1999 at latest", according to Microsoft president Steve Ballmer.

        In a related announcement, Bill Clinton stated that he had "willingly and enthusiastically" accepted a position as a vice president with Microsoft, and will continue to manage the United States government, reporting directly to Bill Gates. When asked how it felt to give up the mantle of executive authority to Gates, Clinton smiled and referred to it as "a relief". He went on to say that Gates has a "proven track record", and that US citizens should offer Gates their "full support and confidence". Clinton will reportedly be earning several times the $200,000 annually he has earned as US president, in his new role at Microsoft.

        Gates dismissed a suggestion that the US Capitol be moved to Redmond as "silly", though he did say that he would make executive decisions for the US government from his existing office at Microsoft headquarters. Gates went on to say that the House and Senate would "of course" be abolished. "Microsoft isn't a democracy", he observed, "and look how well we're doing". When asked if the rumored attendant acquisition of Canada was proceeding, Gates said, "We don't deny that discussions are taking place".

        Microsoft representatives closed the conference by stating that United States citizens will be able to expect lower taxes, increases in government services and discounts on all Microsoft products.

        About Microsoft: Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers and democratic government. The company offers a wide range of products and services for public, business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing and free society every day.

        About the United States: Founded in 1789, the United States of America is the most successful nation in the history of the world, and has been a beacon of democracy and opportunity for over 200 years. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the United States is a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft Corporation.
      • by lynx_user_abroad ( 323975 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @10:26AM (#4478772) Homepage Journal
        If Microsoft are a government...

        Bah!. Do they issue pasports....

        Er... Do they impose taxes.....

        Um... Do they claim a country-level domain similar to .us, .com, .org, or .net...

        bbbbbb..... Have they announced plans to improve their homeland security....

        Errr... Do they thumb their nose at the US govermant and claim to be beyond the reach of US laws....

        Ummm....Ummm.....a flag! Do they have a Flag? Yeah, that's it! They can't be a goverment without a flag. Whew. I knew there was something.

    • by IRNI ( 5906 ) <irni@irni.GIRAFFEnet minus herbivore> on Friday October 18, 2002 @09:43AM (#4478403) Homepage
      Today the Microsoft board of directors approved a resolution that would give Balmer the OK to go in with military force if needed. Bill Gates was quoted as saying, "The actions of this PR consultant are frightening. We have to prevent things like this from ever happening again. Even though we caught her, we believe that she will continue to try and pass herself off as a switcher. Therefore I have given Steve full authority to use our Nukes." The US Government will not comment on their support for Microsoft but have made a blanket statement that anything Microsoft does in its own interest is its right. They recognize the sovereignty of Redmond. More news at 11.
    • by SecGreen ( 577669 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @11:07AM (#4479114)
      I'm sitting here staring at a pen that I received at a Microsoft conference. It's got the words "Microsoft Government" written on it. (The logo can be seen at the top of this page [microsoft.com].) It's just the logo for their government services/sales group, but it sure does draw some strange looks from people.
  • Sanctions? (Score:5, Funny)

    by JPelorat ( 5320 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:31AM (#4477814)
    They're going to blockade her ports and refuse to sell food to her?

    That's a little overkill, isn't it?
  • by Squeezer ( 132342 ) <awilliam@mdah.st ... minus herbivore> on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:32AM (#4477819) Homepage


    Wow, Microsoft might say bad PR person, no doughnut. Or give them a slap on the wrist, or a reprimand in their file.

    Wow that's really punishing her. Show her who is boss.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:32AM (#4477822)
    http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=5838
  • by viper21 ( 16860 ) <scott&iqfoundry,com> on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:32AM (#4477825) Homepage
    Who wouldn't 'Switch'?

    But this 'action' begs the question. Are they going to act on the other 'testimonials' that are prefaced with stock photo images?

    -S
    • by phil reed ( 626 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:33AM (#4477841) Homepage
      Well, the one with the "seventh grade" kid has been pulled too.
    • by sandbenders ( 301132 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:50AM (#4477982) Homepage
      Not to be argumentative, but the use of stock photos does not, in and of itself, mean the whole ad is a sham- although this ad clearly was a sham.

      At my first job, with a company of 7 people, we assumed that when the ad agency did our web site they would be taking pictures of us- especially because the founders considered themselves quite good-looking. But the ad agency used stock photos- they said they ALWAYS used stock photos, and seemed surprised that we thought we'd be photographed. They may have used the stock photo because the day they decided to do it, the PR rep had spilled coffee on herself, or for any number of other minor reasons. It's SOP for an ad company.

      I just think the issue of stock photos is really tangential and unrelated to the larger issue- that the *ad itself* was false, or at best misleading.
      • by Ethelred Unraed ( 32954 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @10:12AM (#4478643) Journal
        At my first job, with a company of 7 people, we assumed that when the ad agency did our web site they would be taking pictures of us- especially because the founders considered themselves quite good-looking. But the ad agency used stock photos- they said they ALWAYS used stock photos, and seemed surprised that we thought we'd be photographed. They may have used the stock photo because the day they decided to do it, the PR rep had spilled coffee on herself, or for any number of other minor reasons. It's SOP for an ad company.

        I used to work in a couple of marketing/design agencies, and still work self-employed in design and marketing. I'd say it is highly unusual to use stock art to represent real people, especially if the people involved are officers of the company -- after all, corporate partners are most likely going to meet these people eventually, so it would make a strange impression on visitors to see that the people don't look like that at all.

        I really wonder what your old employer's agency was thinking (smoking?). Using stock art for testimonials is already questionable (people these days are cynical and intelligent enough to notice the difference), using stock art to represent employees and officers is downright stupid.

        This is, by the way, why the Apple Switch ads are so effective. The people look believable (especially Ellen Feiss ;-) ) mainly because they aren't rehearsed, look "average" and so on. As a result, they are more likely to be listened to that some celebrity or photo model. Maybe they are faked, but if so, it's a hell of a good fake.

        Cheers,

        Ethelred [grantham.de]

    • Are they going to act on the other 'testimonials' that are prefaced with stock photo images?

      Maybe it's just me but I don't really care about the stock photos. Sure, there was an image of a woman on the site, but they didn't caption it saying it was her, they didn't imply in any way that the picture was her, it was just a picture of a woman and everyone jumped to the conclusion that it was supposed to be her.

      At the end of the day, on that point, who cares? If the content of the page was correct (and the person was indeed true) then as far as I'm concerned they could have put any picture of any person from the Getty library.

      Finally, I'd far rather see a picture of a pretty model than an ugly 40 year old woman - even if the former doesn't understand the concept of double clicking, let alone switching operating systems.

      • by excaliburdj ( 455864 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @09:21AM (#4478230)
        You're overlooking one thing here. From the outset, this was being compared to Apple's 'Switch' campaign in which they use real people (as far as we know ;-) )

        So...in addition to this article being paid for, they didn't use the real person to whom the article was attributed, thus making it even *further* from Apple's campaign than was originally thought. That's why there's such an uproar about this being a 'stock' photo. It wouldn't be a big deal if it was, say, a webpage purely about product features or tech support.

        Also...another point that I'd like to make, just because I sometimes enjoy kicking dead horses (it's therapeutic, you should try it), is that in All of Apple's 'Switch' campaign ads and their website ads, they never include instructions on how to switch. That's what makes the article even more fake. Yes, they have a page on how to do the switch, I know, but they don't say, "Hi, I'm some kewl dude who switched to the Mac, and here's exactly, click by click, how I did it" in any of the ads.
  • by user no. 590291 ( 590291 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:32AM (#4477832)
    . . . oops! We got caught! Why, this was one rouge contractor who didn't meet our standards of conduct. We'll see that s/he is appropriately flogged in the public square. Then we'll go on doing the same things, only being more careful not to be so obvious about it.
    • Why, this was one rouge contractor who didn't meet our standards of conduct. We'll see that s/he is appropriately flogged in the public square...
      ...and be careful to only hire bleu et blanc contractors in the future.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:55AM (#4478027)
      Yea, first it was a "consultant". I've never worked at a place where a consultant's work was posted to the Corporate web site without, at least, 3 levels of Corporate approval. One by the consultant's corporate supervisor, one by the Corporate PR department for "message", and one by the Web site manager.

      Someone Corporate had to approve the PO to pay for the stock photo.

      Neither have I worked in a place where consultant's ruled their own destiny. To work on projects other than what they've been asked to work on is bizzar.

      Yea, "rouge contractor", that's it. Microsoft would NEVER think to do such a thing.
    • by gspeare ( 470147 ) <{geoff} {at} {shalott.com}> on Friday October 18, 2002 @11:06AM (#4479108) Journal
      Why, this was one rouge contractor...

      And boy, are their faces red.

  • by SerpentMage ( 13390 ) <<ChristianHGross> <at> <yahoo.ca>> on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:32AM (#4477833)
    Ok so what is MS going to do? Start a software embargo against one person?

    Will they raise this issue at the UN and demand a resolution? Hmmm, that would require votes from China and France who are LINUX supporters?

    Politics, Politics, my head just spins....
  • Not quite (Score:3, Funny)

    by EyesWideOpen ( 198253 ) <[moc.htimsuc] [ta] [sitruc]> on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:33AM (#4477836) Homepage Journal
    Lots of amusing little quites about what it means to be trustworthy.

    Quite amusing indeed.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:33AM (#4477837)
    Interesting tactic: "We deliberately engaged in a campaign of misinformation and lies ... so we're going to punish the person we hired to carry it out."

    From an organizational perspective, this renders down to if we screw up, you're the one left swinging.

  • plausible denial? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:33AM (#4477840)
    so it was alright until the press got wind of it?
  • by darkov ( 261309 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:36AM (#4477861)
    ...now she can switch back to something more usable.

    Of course it's a bit rich saying it was a rouge PR or marketing drone. I'm sure the marketing gestapo at MS rules with an iron fist and may well have insisted some sort of respose to Apple's succesful campaign.
    • by ruiner13 ( 527499 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @10:03AM (#4478567) Homepage
      Of course it's a bit rich saying it was a rouge PR or marketing drone. I'm sure the marketing gestapo at MS rules with an iron fist and may well have insisted some sort of respose to Apple's succesful campaign.

      Not so sure about that. They have had their marketing come back and bite them in the ass before. One I remember is the whole Novell customer targeted marketing when they told many Novell Netware users that Novell was dead [theregus.com]. I think they also made some ads a while back where they showed a person painted into a corner [internetnews.com] (and the paint color was Sun's color)

      Anyway, my point is that I don't think they either

      1. don't pay attention to their marketing drones
      2. get off on causing contoversy (no such thing as bad press?)
      3. are so out of touch with reality that making up fictional switch stories sounded like a good plan
      4. All of the above
      Hell, with all the money Ballmer and Gates make, I bet they can get some pretty powerful hallucinogens.
  • by BoBaBrain ( 215786 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:37AM (#4477872)
    To avoid the embarrassment this would bring, they should just force her to switch to Mac.

    Whew! Another public faux pas averted.
  • by kakos ( 610660 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:37AM (#4477873)
    Now if only Apple would impose sanctions on the people they hire to do their 'switch' ads. The world would be a far better place without this guy [apple.com] or this kid [apple.com] or this woman (man?) [apple.com] on TV.
  • hmmm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Valpis ( 6866 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:38AM (#4477880)
    Although not referring specifically to the Mallinson case, he added it may be necessary to "weed out" employees who did not live up to Microsoft's code of behaviour.

    I really want them to clarify what their code of behaviour means...
  • by CommandNotFound ( 571326 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:38AM (#4477881)
    ...I guess you go ahead and put the other one in your mouth as well.

    To paraphrase their current situation:
    "We got caught in one PR disaster, so we're going to create another PR disaster by picking on some lady who works for our contractor."
  • by mattdm ( 1931 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:39AM (#4477885) Homepage
    Ok, no one else has said this yet, so I will: this whole stance Microsoft is taking of blaming the consultant is the most laughable thing I've heard in a long time. Why on earth would some random low-level ad person lie to help Microsoft? Is she an evil, conniving, "not entirely straightforward" person? Answer: no, of course not. She did it because Microsoft told her to do it, and paid her.

    At the best (or worst, depending on the angle you're looking from) she came up with the concept and it was okayed by her superiors -- it did end up on the Microsoft site, after all, and from the article she wrote, I seriously doubt she has the technical skills to hack in and put it there herself.

    Microsoft's claim that they're the innocent victims of the manipulations of some ad agency schemer is so obviously ridiculous and transparent I can't believe they're even trying it.

    • tin foil hat (Score:5, Informative)

      by sammy baby ( 14909 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @09:21AM (#4478232) Journal
      Why on earth would some random low-level ad person lie to help Microsoft? Is she an evil, conniving, "not entirely straightforward" person? Answer: no, of course not. She did it because Microsoft told her to do it, and paid her.

      Right, because everyone knows that people in advertising are the soul of discretion and honesty. Wait, what the fuck?

      Microsoft doesn't pay random low-level people to lie. They hire whole ad agencies to do campaigns for them. So, maybe it was someone from Microsoft who came up with the idea for a "reverse switched" campaign (nevermind the absurdity of the concept - how many Mac users convert to die-hard Windows freaks?). What probably happened was that MS said, "great, get some testimonials and make it happen!" and the poor shmuck stuck with the job sat there for a little while until she realized that there weren't any such testimonials to be had. So she made one up.

      Microsoft has done plenty of ad campaigns in the past, but their deceptions have all been about matters of substance - stuff like "the GPL will take over your software." Lying about something like this isn't just dumb - it may actually be too far beneath their notice to be worth pinning on them.

      • Re:tin foil hat (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jobe_br ( 27348 ) <bdruth@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Friday October 18, 2002 @09:43AM (#4478401)
        Just an FYI. Ad agencies and PR firms may have the appearance of being dishonest and what not, as you allege, but in the end, everything the ad agency or PR firm does is approved by SOMEONE on the client's side. Someone at Microsoft saw this, read it, and agreed to it - probably went through a couple of rounds of revisions to get the wording right and to choose which images to show in the article. Ad agencies don't just go off on their own and do whatever they think ought to be done. Thinking that is ludicrous.

        Not only is the PR consultant who wrote the piece not at fault because it was approved by someone at Microsoft, but the initial concepts of the idea and each draft of the article was routed through various levels of higher-up directors, in an ad agency, you'd have a designer, an art director, a creative director and an account executive before the client even sees anything. I'm not sure how its structured in a PR firm, but its likely similar. For Microsoft to target one person for such an elaborate article is ridiculous.

        Cheers.
      • Re:tin foil hat (Score:4, Informative)

        by namespan ( 225296 ) <[namespan] [at] [elitemail.org]> on Friday October 18, 2002 @10:19AM (#4478713) Journal
        there weren't any such testimonials to be had

        Just an observation, but there simply must be such testimonials to be had. I know people who've gone Mac to PC/WinXP. Just two days ago, an old roomate who knew that I consistently buy Macintosh Hardware for my personal use (despite 15+ years experience with PCs and various *NIXs), called to gloat over the fact that his mother was going to replace her aging PowerMac 7200 with a PC and that clock speeds on Apple Machines were clearly inferior. I know a number of people who've made the same choice. They're out there.

        Don't get me wrong. I don't think it's the wisest choice, and it's not one I'd ever make, but it's one that a number of people are deciding on, and it doesn't bother me much -- I think they'll suffer a bit more frustration and miss out on some better thought ought technology. But it happens.

        I think Microsoft's problem with getting credible testimonies is a lot like the Bush administration's problem with a rationale for a war on Iraq. There are lots of very good rationales for a war on Iraq, but the administrations motives and goals are mixed and not directly related to some of the best reasons. Lacking the right moral base, they have trouble making a convincing case even where there's one to be had. If the company would stop trying to keep its stranglehold on power and go with a craftsman's focus on delivering the best products -- and if they could see themselves that way -- it'd be easier for them to just go about things honestly.

  • by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:40AM (#4477890) Journal
    It wasn't a outright lie. she had switched to XP, and wrote about it. She changed some of the less relevent details so that people didn't dismiss it as a piece of marketing fluff, but that was all.

    The facts remain true. She did switch. She did find it easy.

    Besides, this is marketing. It's not expected to be 100% true. How do we know that any of Apple's "switch" stories aren't simply made up?
    • She changed some of the less relevent details...

      Such as who she actually was, what she looked like and the fact that her writing was actually straight from the Outlook manual...

      Cheers,
      Ian

    • by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:51AM (#4477994) Journal
      > How do we know that any of Apple's "switch" stories aren't simply made up?

      Although I think this is all besides the point. I think the 'mistruth' that would piss off the upstairs would be the stock photo they used with the article, not the article itself. That's what left them with egg on their face.

      But the stories on all sides are half-truths, basically. They compare Mac OSX to Windows 95/98, not to XP (or even 2000) which would be the fair comparison.

      I mean you could compare Windows XP to MacOS 8 and see which one "just works". The only time I was forced to reboot XP was after the service pack install.

      Noone's after the truth. Not MSFT nor Apple nor the linux or BSD crowds. They're all simply out to say "mine is better than yours".

      And as for Ellen Feiss - yeah, we've all seen a Win98 box freeze or crash, and probably lost some data in the process.. But I've never seen one go BEEP BEEP BEEP or make anything that sounds like that gravelly noise from the back of your throat. (Except a dying hard drive, which AFAIK the almighty Apple is not immune from)

      Meh. Who even cares anymore?
    • by BurritoWarrior ( 90481 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:53AM (#4478014)
      Her "story" fits the exact same formula as the other "testimonials" on Microsoft's site. She didn't do this on her own. It was a marketing campaign orchestrated by MS and their PR firm.

      If she was some "rogue contractor" than I guess so was the little boy and the other testimonials on their site too. Odd, how they all write with the same style and flair, isn't it?

      Does MS really believe we are THIS dumb?
    • by Knobby ( 71829 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:57AM (#4478054)

      Actually, there were a number of comments posted the other day that pointed out Mac (rather than windows) path delimiters recorded in the word document that was posted on-line. This implies that the may have been no "switch" at all..

      If I were Microsoft I'd probably be just as pissed that she mentioned having to reinstall Outlook while she was attempting to make the switch.

      As far as Apple's Switch ads are concerned, it's hard to believe they aren't real. The people get up there and state their name. If I knew the person on the screen and knew that they were lying, then you can bet that I'd say something..

    • by dubiousmike ( 558126 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @09:04AM (#4478094) Homepage Journal
      STOP!

      You are detroying the sanctity of The Mac Nation. Don't you understand that this thread is supposed to be about bashing M$?!?! For God's sake, your even handed insight is not welcome here on ./, never mind this post. I am sufficiently horrified.

      Moderators, mod down before he causes a riot!

      :P

    • by pgilman ( 96092 ) <[ni.ag] [ta] [reven]> on Friday October 18, 2002 @11:26AM (#4479334) Journal

      "
      Besides, this is marketing. It's not expected to be 100% true."

      this is a huge problem with american corporate culture, and american culture in general: it's OK to be dishonest; it's OK to lie. it's expected. stop and think for a moment how twisted it is to expect to be lied to and to accept it; condone it, even. this is the same sort of mindset which allows for such evil as the "aggressive bookkeeping" of enron et al.

      americans' acceptance of this sort of pragmatic, "anything's all right as long as you don't get caught" mentality is why america is more and more culturally and morally bankrupt every day, and losing its stature in world politics.

  • by DickBreath ( 207180 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:41AM (#4477896) Homepage
    Although not referring specifically to the Mallinson case, he added it may be necessary to "weed out" employees who did not live up to Microsoft's code of behaviour.

    Microsoft has a code of behavior? You could have fooled me. Especially given the reprehensible way they have behaved as a corporation for the last decade.

    Oh... wait... Maybe I'm making assumptions about what the code of behavior says. Maybe she will get in trouble for violating the code of behavior, namely, because she got caught and did not get away with it.
  • by quantax ( 12175 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:41AM (#4477899) Homepage
    Let me get this straight, Microsoft hires her to do this little commercial, I imagine not giving much of a shit whether or not she switched. Perhaps she mentioned the word switch, so she seemed to be qualified. Then they will actually punish her for their retarded PR mistake? This is like a parent telling their kids, "Jonny, go tell our neighbors about our dog that we don't have." And then once the neighbors call up asking why Jonny is going on and on about a non-existant dog, the parents say, "JONNY! GET YOUR ASS OVER HERE, YOU LYING YOU LITTLE SOB, IMA GONNA SMACK YOU DOWN!" Punishing your workers for the very thing you hired them to do demonstrates piss poor decision making on the managers parts. MS is the one who came up with this rediculous faux-switch campaign, shooting the messenger who brought it to the people is just irresponsible. Personally, this sounds like a pink-slip relay, everyone handing the responsiblity down until it arrives at the foot of the person who listened to what everyone told them to do.
  • Ellen Feiss (Score:5, Funny)

    by cscx ( 541332 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:41AM (#4477904) Homepage
    Well I guess they can't use the excuse that "well she looked like she was high, so we can't really hold it against her..."
  • by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:42AM (#4477911) Homepage Journal

    it may be necessary to "weed out" employees who did not live up to Microsoft's code of behaviour.

    Will the last person leaving Redmond please turn off the lights?

  • by darkov ( 261309 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:44AM (#4477922)
    Although not referring specifically to the Mallinson case, he added it may be necessary to "weed out" employees who did not live up to Microsoft's code of behaviour.

    Obviously they're looking for more of an Ellen Feiss feel to their propaganda.

  • by Call Me Black Cloud ( 616282 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:47AM (#4477950)
    Blame the real culprit...the nefarious marketing hack Don Funk (donfu@microsoft.com). Here's [microsoft.com] an image from that ad. Note the name of the user who is logged on.

    Valerie may have written the copy but do you think she got the stock image, drove to Microsoft, got on Don Funk's computer, took a screen shot, then uploaded it to the server? Perhaps she just made a "Don Funk" user on her machine and hacked into the MS web site.

    Ah well, Ballmer's on the case - "I will certainly castigate the offender." Ooh, I never thought they'd go for castigation at MS...after all, that would leave them with eunuchs.
  • Sah Dah Tay (Score:5, Funny)

    by horati0 ( 249977 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:47AM (#4477959) Journal
    "I got a piece of mail that was vague that the assertion is some marketing person did something that was not entirely straightforward," Ballmer said.

    This guy makes about as much sense as Pootie Tang.
  • by MercuryWings ( 615234 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:48AM (#4477965) Journal
    ....where the criminals are always sorry - but usually they're only sorry they got caught.

    Micirosoft has been known for this type of behaviour. Using one of their own PR persons to pretend to be a 'switcher' (for the lack of a better term) is just par for the course

    I'm not surprised MS is planning reprisals for this person. Pretending to be an ordinary joe off the street that switched is ok - getting caught as a stooge in one of MS's standard FUD strategies though - that's just not acceptable.

    <sarcasm>

    How dare she be so stupid as to not have gone into hiding and prevent the damage to MS's precious reputation?

    </sarcasm>

  • From the article:
    Although not referring specifically to the Mallinson case, he added it may be necessary to "weed out" employees who did not live up to Microsoft's code of behaviour.

    I hope Ballmer's got his resume polished. I think they'll have to use a lawnmower to accomplish that weeding.

    (Then again "MS's code of behavior" could mean something else...)
  • Way to go /. !!!! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mustangdavis ( 583344 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:50AM (#4477987) Homepage Journal
    "The software company was forced to pull the advertising, which mimics rival Apple's Switch campaign from Windows XP to the Mac, after keen-eyed regulars to the Slashdot tech news and discussion Web site noticed irregularities in the case study of an anonymous woman that was presented on the Microsoft Web site."


    The above quote says it all!!

  • by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:50AM (#4477990) Homepage Journal

    Hello, my name is Valerie G. Mallinson and I was a public relations consultant.

    Until recently I worked at Wes Rataushk and Associates Incorporates. Recently my life has taken an unexpected turn and now I can honestly say that I was not happy there. At my new job I can't wait to ask every client a smiling "Would you like that Super Sized?"

    That's right, McDonalds is the best job in the world. My name is Valerie G. Mallinson and I switched.
  • by teamhasnoi ( 554944 ) <teamhasnoi@ y a h o o.com> on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:51AM (#4478001) Homepage Journal
    MS didn't KNOW? Come on, any mouthbreather can read those 'Switched' pieces (of crap) and know immediately that nobody writes like that. Twelve year old kid with a vocabulary of a college TA? I think not, unless his middle name is Doogie Freaking Howser. Besides, I don't know of any school where kids actually learn anything other than how to dominate their schoolmates with threats of violence and/or how to get past Berzerkeroid on level 23 of Street Ninja XII.

    MS is putting their spin back in, since they hosed it up the first time. The ironic thing is, had Word not crapped out a bunch of info (which it shouldn't), it wouldn't have gotten to this point. *Of course, actually taking pictures of real people wouldn't hurt either. I would be interested to know whether or not they *paid for the pictures, or just skimmed them off the site.

    MS needs to have someone leave the ivory tower and go talk to real people. Those interviews in which Mom says, "I switched from a Brother Word Processor, and now I can print the Lutheran Bake Sale Price List in COLOR! I'm still trying to get 'the online' though."

    Bob at the Garage says, "We used to do our stuff on this box here, then the boss says to me, he says, 'Bob! Get me a Module for an 89 Escort.'

    I was like, 'What the hell? Napa's closed.'

    And he said, we need to get 'the online'. He went out next day and got 'the online' and now we got 'the online'. We have to get the postits from the old one on here though."

    After the 'Real People' interviews, MS will realize that they don't *want to know who uses windows, and quietly release Windows LX, which is Lindows, but crashes more.

  • by DavidBrown ( 177261 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:52AM (#4478006) Journal
    I certainly agree with the general sentiment that Microsoft has egg on its face. Again. But, really, the faux-switcher website cannot be considered as a high profile ad campaign by any stretch of the imagination. Where are the TV ads and radio spots? The X-10 pop-up ads have had much more of an impact than the Microsoft webpage. Most of us learned about the MS ad here on /., not via any source of mainstream media.

    Perhaps this wasn't Ballmer's idea - at least he's trying to present a claim of plausible deniability - not that it matters. MS is certainly responsible here - but blowing the fraud out of proportion isn't doing any good. It will simply allow MS to downplay criticism of their greater crimes with a "there they go again" excuse.

  • by RicochetRita ( 581914 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:53AM (#4478011) Homepage
    [Microsoft] was forced to pull the advertising, which mimics rival Apple's Switch campaign from Windows XP to the Mac, after keen-eyed regulars to the Slashdot tech news and discussion Web site noticed irregularities in the case study of an anonymous woman that was presented on the Microsoft Web site.

    And here I thought we were all a bunch of illiterate, know-nothing (but very vocal, none-the-less) geeks.

    Will wonders never cease.

    R

  • by SubtleNuance ( 184325 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:53AM (#4478017) Journal
    100% proof that shit rolls down hill.

    Can you believe that this unscrupulous women would try and besmirch the good reputation of the honourable and Trustworthy(TM) reputation of Microsoft Corp.? What has this world come to, when, a lowly maggot such as this can expose the righteous to such scourn, oh heavens me, What Great and GRAND Injustice , Microsoft has endured enough of an attack from this nat. Feel not pitty for her, for she will feel the wrath of God's scourn.

    I for one stand shoulder to shoulder with -- and will stand and fight for the honour -- of Microsoft, to help them endure this vile mudslinging.

    I am absolutely agast.

    I say we BURN HER AT THE STAKEEE!!!

  • by Col. Klink (retired) ( 11632 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:56AM (#4478043)
    Who said no one was ever fired for buying MicroSoft?

    She should just switch back and do a testimonial for Apple.
  • Some perspective... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dr00g911 ( 531736 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @08:59AM (#4478069)
    I come from an advertising & PR background with several small to medium sized agencies.

    First off: I'd wager that 90% of the testimonials you see in advertising are manufactured by the agency using their own employees. I've done it, and just about everyone I've known in the business at smaller agencies have done it. We also lend our voices to TV/Radio spots on occasion, and also appear in photo shoots from time to time when the budget or deadline are too tight to solicit (read: pay) professionals/real people.

    Secondly: This is always done with the client's complete knowledge.

    MS is playing a big game of CYA right now, and the agency is falling on their sword and taking the blame. That's how it works.

    Their little stunt backfired on them, so they're spinning the blame to the PR/ad agency.

    This sort of thing goes on every day, although not usually as high profile (or embarassing) as this particular case, which delights me to no end.

    MS has been steal^H^H^H^H^H emulating Apple for how many years now? And they still can't get it right. Betcha 'ol Steve is laughing his turtlenecked ass off about this one, not to mention the folks at Chiat Day (Apple's agency).
  • code (Score:5, Funny)

    by david_g ( 24196 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @09:00AM (#4478072)
    Although not referring specifically to the Mallinson case, he added it may be necessary to "weed out" employees who did not live up to Microsoft's code of behaviour.

    Specifically, this one:

    10. Thou shalt not be caught after doing any or all of these things.

  • Castigate? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Digital Prophet ( 573623 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @09:05AM (#4478102)
    "I got a piece of mail that was vague that the assertion is some marketing person did something that was not entirely straightforward," Ballmer said. "If that's right, I will certainly castigate the offender."

    I see Ballmer is up to "C" in his word-a-day program.
  • by liquidsin ( 398151 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @09:06AM (#4478111) Homepage
    "I got a piece of mail that was vague that the assertion is some marketing person did something that was not entirely straightforward," Ballmer said.

    Really?!? Marketing not being straight forward? Does this also mean that maybe dude isn't actually getting a Dell?
  • by yuri ( 22724 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @09:06AM (#4478116)
    Big ads all over the place all about how switching was the worst mistake she ever made.

    She lost her job, became a public laughing stock, all because she switched to XP.
  • by SuperJ ( 125753 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @09:08AM (#4478134) Homepage
    October 14, 2002

    Yes, it's true. I like obsolete technology enough to change my whole computing world around. Here's the bottom line: the UnixPC gives me more choices and flexibility, and better compatibility with the rest of the technology world.

    More Hardware Options, for Less Benjamins (or free)

    I am a computer engineer. I demand the best in desktop computers. There are many features for the UnixPC platform. My UnixPC came with 1 Megabyte of RAM, a 12" screen, a 20 Megabyte hard drive, a 360 Kilobyte disk drive, a 1200 baud modem for lightning fast connections over a phone line, and a Voice Power board, which allows me to record sounds on the computer. Entirely free. And the UnixPC runs UnixPC OS 3.51, based on AT&T's System V Release 4.

    More Software Flexibility

    Microsoft Word pales in comparison to vi. There's no equivalent to the versatility of typing with vi and formatting with troff. It does ASCII text formatting for maximum standards compliance. My AT&T dot-matrix printer prints all my code listings with stunning clarity.

    The additional "Ethernet" board allows the UnixPC to connect to other computers on your network, or even to the "Internet," a new and growing global network of computers. Telnet does more for me than Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 ever did, allowing me to directly connect and enter commands into remote computers.

    How Now Brown Cow?

    Now that I've given you the reasons why I converted, here's the 411 on the how, dig it.

    Step 1: Operating System Install
    The first time I turned on my UnixPC, the UnixPC prompted me to insert the install media. I sat for only an hour, putting floppy after floppy into the computer, while the system copied them to disk. It's like that time I owned a Pinto, and I kept feeding it more and more parts and spending more and more money until it eventually worked.

    Step 2: Setting up Accounts
    After I installed the operating system and rebooted, my UnixPC asked me to login. I logged in with the installation account, and I was brought into the UnixPC's "Windowing" environment. I easily created myself an account and set the root password.

    Step 3: Setting up "E-Mail"
    Once I installed the Voice Power board and its driver software, I also installed the Voice E-mail package. E-mail (or Electronic Mail) is a way for people to send each other messages over the Internet. The Voice E-mail package allows you to use your UnixPC as an answering machine, once the answering machine software is installed. When a message is recorded, an envelope icon shows up at the top right of the screen. Clicking on this icon brings you to your Inbox, where the new message will appear as a new E-mail. In the Inbox, you can also compose and send messages to other users, all you need to know is their UUCP bang path.

    The AT&T UnixPC has all the features a 17 year old computer should have.

    AT&T's UnixPC: The Computer With The Future Built In.
  • by Get Behind the Mule ( 61986 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @09:13AM (#4478167)
    Ballmer:
    ... it may be necessary to "weed out" employees who did not live up to Microsoft's code of behaviour.


    Hi Steve! (I know you're reading.)

    What does Microsoft's code of behavior have to say about employee conduct that gets the company convicted in the Federal court system for multiple violations of the Sherman Act?

    What does the code say about executives who lie under oath in videotaped depositions?

    What does the code say about manufacturing evidence in a trial?

    What does the code say about attempting to intimidate potentially hostile witnesses?

    Will you be "weeding out" any of the Microsoft employees who are known to have done all of these things?
  • by Lovejoy ( 200794 ) <danlovejoy&gmail,com> on Friday October 18, 2002 @09:16AM (#4478190) Homepage
    The article doesn't say that Ballmer is going to punish Mallinson. It says they may punish the marketing person who came up with this idea. That means, most likely, whoever tasked Mallinson's firm with this job. So many have written "It was MS's idea, and it's MS's fault, not Mallinson's" Of course, but MS isn't the borg, despite popular belief. They don't come up wiht ideas collectively and foist them on unsuspecting freelancers.

    Most likely, an individual in their Windows marketing group came up with that idea and outsourced it, simple as that. If anyone gets in trouble, it will be that person, or the head of that group. However, I doubt that anyone in that group will really be punished.

    The other possibility is that Mallinson's firm came up with the idea. In that case, the firm is probably no longer affiliated with MS. NOW, what's really unlikely is that Mallinson came up with the idea, pitched it to her firm, got approval, pitched it to Microsoft, got approval, then wrote it herself.

    Most likely a team was involved. They made a mistake. They got caught. It's over. I doubt anyone will get fired. If they do, that sucks because I think the collective hubris at MS is more to blame than any one person.

    Valerie - are you reading /.? Care to share?
  • Still Spinning (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dcollins ( 135727 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @09:26AM (#4478267) Homepage
    ...a public relations consultant who tried to pass herself off as someone who had switched from the Apple Mac to Windows XP...


    As a former political activist (who's seen at least one scandal occur close-up), it was immediately obvious to me from the original story that this, too, is a total crock. There's no way that this PR consultant was at any point intending to use herself as an example. Here's what had to be the case:

    (1) PR consultant is directed to write a series of fictional "counter-switch" case studies.
    (2) PR consultant's name gets recovered from the MS documents sloppily put on the web,
    (3) The name is tracked down to the PR firm itself, and questions are asked as to the possible fictition of counter-switch examples,
    (4) So the PR consultant in question is directed to take the hit for the company, and claim that the example is not fictional, it's her. Hogwash.

    I'd challenge MS and/or the PR firm to prove that this writer/consultant in any way resembles the figure in the case study. I bet she doesn't look anything like that stock photo, nor would any of her personal information match up with the story, if forced out of them.

    The case study is just total fiction and this chick wrote it, is all. Now she's jumped on the sword to mask that fact. I've seen practically the same thing happen at a place I worked before.

  • Those damn PR people (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LoRider ( 16327 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @09:30AM (#4478302) Homepage Journal
    This person is a patsy. Microsoft breeds this sort of shit with the culture it promotes internally. I know this because my wife worked there for 3 years. They don't care if someone does this sort of thing, they only care that they got caught.

    It's the same way the approach secure software. They don't care if it's actually secure, they only care that no one finds the security problems. That's why they get pissed when people find holes in their software. "Well it wouldn't be a problem if someone didn't find out about it, now would it?"

    That, and many other reasons, is why they will never open the source on their software. They know there code will not stand up to scrutiny and it wasn't designed to do so either. They make things to make money - period. Now I know some of you idiots out there are going to say, "Of course, Microsoft is a business that's why all businesses make software." My rebuttal is yes software companies make software to make money. However, there is this little thing called professionalism. It's where you do things for your profession because it's the right thing to do. Like when lawyers take cases pro bono or doctors help someone on the street who just got hit by a car. Software should be looked at the same way. You make software secure and reliable because it's your profession and your company should encourage you to do so. Microsoft does not encourage it's programmers to write quality code - it's not part of their culture. I am off topic now so I shall bid you farewell.

    Sorry for going off, but the 3 years my wife worked at MS were some really difficult times and we love it now that she's free. It really is a horrible place to work, it's really fucked up.

  • by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @09:31AM (#4478309) Homepage
    [Steve Ballmer] added it may be necessary to "weed out" employees who did not live up to Microsoft's code of behaviour.

    Manager: Have you added any gaping holes in security?
    Peon: No.
    Manager: Have you lied to our customers?
    Peon: No.
    Manager: Have you disobeyed any Federal court orders?
    Peon: No.
    Manager: You're fired.
  • by breon.halling ( 235909 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @09:33AM (#4478322)

    I can picture the ad now:

    I used to use a Mac until Microsoft paid me to switch over to XP and write an article about how great it is. But then they changed their minds and threatened "sanctions" against me.
    So fuck 'em. Now I'm back to my Mac. My name is Valerie G. Mallinson and I'm currently unemployed.

    It would be pure genius!

  • Microsoft Damage Control wraps up two days of debate on Wes Rataushk and Assoc Associates

    Microsoft Damage Control in session 17 October - Microsoft Damage Control today wrapped up two days of open debate on PR firm Wes Rataushk and Assoc Associates, with over 40 departments - including all 15 board members - participating in the discussions, which began yesterday and included widespread calls for Valerie G. Mallinson's compliance as well as numerous pleas to avoid a violent confrontation.

    Addressing Microsoft today on behalf of the Trustworthy Computing, Mokhtar Lamani hailed Wes Rataushk and Associates's decision to re-admit Microsoft ad inspectors, calling this a "first step" towards a settlement of the issue leading to a lifting of the sanctions.

    He recalled that numerous speakers had stressed during Microsoft's meeting that there should be no double standards in term of non-compliance with Microsoft resolutions. "The history of Microsoft testifies to the fact that some of its PR firms have shown defiance of its resolutions - MSNBC is a clear example," he said. "However, Microsoft, including the Microsoft Damage Control did not resort to the use of force against these firms." Citing academic research, he said that firms other than Wes Rataushk and Associates were currently violating more than 90 Microsoft Damage Control resolutions, including 31 dealing with MSNBC.

  • by sheldon ( 2322 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @09:44AM (#4478409)
    USNews & World Report [usnews.com] reported this past summer that the Apple switch ads are questionable. They tried to interview the actual people in the ads, but apparently they are all under NDA.

    They were allowed to interview two of them, but only with an Apple representative present. Sounds like they were trying to interview someone living in Iraq?

    Furthermore, all of the Apple switchers were paid for their involvement. Who wouldn't switch if they were given a free Powerbook + expenses? Then it also turns out that many of the "switchers" have employment connections with Apple, or work for magazines which receive large amounts of Apple advertising, etc.

    It's just kind of interesting. Microsoft's advertising tactics have never been as unethical as what Apple has been doing with the switch campaign, and yet who bears the brunt of the attacks here?
    • by AtariDatacenter ( 31657 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @10:00AM (#4478549)
      So, this is the justification that Microsoft is going to use to show that they are the ones to deliver 'trustworthy computing'?

      "We lied! But we're trustworthy because look over here! They lied, too!"
    • by Redwing ( 311189 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @10:30AM (#4478813) Homepage Journal
      Thanks for the great link. I'm just going to jump in to clarify some points you made...


      They were allowed to interview two of them, but only with an Apple representative present.

      According to the article, US News talked to three switchers, one without any Apple representative.


      Furthermore, all of the Apple switchers were paid for their involvement. Who wouldn't switch if they were given a free Powerbook + expenses?

      US News says one of the switchers says he was paid.

      ...or work for magazines which receive large amounts of Apple advertising, etc.

      The magazine is the New Yorker. The amount of advertising is never mentioned. What USNews and this poster also fail to examine is whether the New Yorker prints ads for Apple competitors. Although I don't know, I can probably assume this safely.


      It's just kind of interesting. Microsoft's advertising tactics have never been as unethical as what Apple has been doing with the switch campaign, and yet who bears the brunt of the attacks here?

      I think the main difference here is that there is evidence that the Windows switcher works for Microsoft indirectly. I think anyone who appears in commercials should get paid for their time and effort, but the Mallinson woman was on the payroll for another reason entirely.

    • by CSG_SurferDude ( 96615 ) <wedaa&wedaa,com> on Friday October 18, 2002 @10:36AM (#4478847) Homepage Journal

      I realy didn't want to do a rebuttal, but....

      Ellen Feiss-- Apple's Ad [apple.com] Yearbook Photos [ellenfeiss.net]

      Tony Hawk-- Apple Ad [apple.com] Tony's Web Site [tonyhawk.com]

      Dave Haxton-- Apple [apple.com] His Resume [haxton.org]

      Theresa McPherson-- No Online Presence...

      Mark Gibson-- Apple [apple.com] His Customer's owner's comment on him. [witoldriedel.com]

      I don't have time to do a full rebuttal (I AM at work, after all), but my random sample indicates these are real folks.

      So, I would assume that most of the adults are taking advantage of their 15 minutes of fame. It's not worth Apple's time to fake these ads, since so many folks would do it for free.

  • by wazzzup ( 172351 ) <astromac.fastmail@fm> on Friday October 18, 2002 @09:54AM (#4478504)
    So did Microsoft impose sanctions on themselves when it was found out that during the Microsoft trial letters from a "grassroots campaign" sent to politicians were found to be fake? Was Bill or Steve castigated?

    Puhleeese Steve, do you think anybody believes the crap rolling out of your mouth by the bucketfull?
  • by Bobb Sledd ( 307434 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @09:56AM (#4478513) Homepage
    I'm really not trolling here, and I'm not advocating MS in any way, but it seems that a lot of otherwise bright people are hung up on this being a Microsoft blunder when this happens everyday in advertising.

    When you see an ad on TV for herpes medication, do you think that person really has herpes? Of course not - you couldn't pay anyone enough to do a commercial like that. They are paid actors, and nothing more. They may even hate the product they are selling.

    The PR lady is nothing different; she was, in effect, a paid actor. So they made a false testimony, so what? Advertisers do that all the time to drum up business. It seems slimy and under-handed, but it's the way it works most of the time.
  • by YottaMatt ( 535195 ) <mhilliard@yottay ... om minus painter> on Friday October 18, 2002 @11:06AM (#4479100)
    No one was ever fired for choosing Mircosoft. Mwahahahah

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