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Microsoft Admits to Secretly Paying for "Independent" Ads 118

This has been submitted a fair amount, although it came out on the 18th. Microsoft has admitted to paying for ads from a California insitute. The institue, The Independent Institute got 240 academic experts to sign a document saying that the anti-trust case was bad for the consumer. Basically, it appears that the Institute ran the ads, while Microsoft reimbursed them for the cost of placing the ads, and the travel involved. Mmm...dirty tricks.
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Microsoft Admits to Secretly Paying for "Independent" Ads

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  • No need to topple Microsoft, I think, just stand back, they're doing quite well all on their own. Does one yell

    "Software!" when a behemoth starts to fall?

    No, one yells "BLUESCREEN!"
  • Bill has a smiley face because assimilation is such a wonderful, painfree,and downright smurfy thing.
  • haven't you seen "goodfellas"?
  • Ayn Rand? Try Anna Frank. "...I still believe people are good at heart..." ;^)

    (Remove "x"'s from
  • by El Volio ( 40489 ) on Monday September 20, 1999 @02:47AM (#1672446) Homepage
    For immediate release

    Microsoft [microsoft.com], a large technology company based in Redmond, WA, today announced Independent2000, a new suite designed to objectively evaluate Microsoft products and corporate moves.

    Steve Ballmer, president of Microsoft, stated, "We feel that it is in the best interests of our customers to do a truly objective self-analysis. This should prove to any and all critics that Microsoft is dedicated to improving competition in the marketplace."

    The new program suite will monitor MSN.com, Microsoft.com, and other web sites for news about the technology giant and condense product reviews found there for a fair, unbiased comparison. The product will be hitting shelves with an estimated street price of around US$249.
  • Microsoft has now shown that, in addition to programmers, consumers, open standards and IT managers, it also has no respect for academics. Hopefully, they will remember this when MS comes around and tries to sell them that NT server deal mentioned in a previous article here.
  • Errr isn't this how the US political advertisements run? Paid for by each party, with pro messages, and slagging the opposition?

  • Seriously?

    When I worked there I loved it. Relaxed atmosphere, best working environment I ever had, all the hardware I wanted, basically free reign outside project deadlines.

    Then the UK culled contractors ... booo :(

    But my job satisfaction was high, I was proud of the stuff I did with XML as the support was being developed, and I don't care if you all think I worked for the "great satan".

  • Yep. Even a quick look at their website (appropriately: http://www.independent.org [independent.org]) indicates a radically-lassaiz faire market stance (not to mention other right-wing positions).

    I'd hardly expect such an organization to conduct unbiased research, but any institute that wants to present itself as a purveyor of non-partisan findings has a strong interest in keeping their conflict-of-interest nose clean. The hiding of major contributions, when the contributors happen to be the beneficiaries of Institute actions, is a major strike against them. Even more so, when they duped professionals into placing their name on Independent Institute advertisements by presenting an appearance of bias-free findings. That tends to make professionals angry, and I'd be suprised if the Independent Institute garners much support in the future.

    A more interesting question will be the impact upon the trial judge.

    (Remove "x"'s from

  • by Anonymous Coward
    When the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to treat everything as a nail.

    When the only tool you have is $15 billion in cash, you tend to treat everybody as a potential bribe-taker!

    Microsoft has a huge pile of cash, which they have not even a foggy clue as to how to use. They are completely bankrupt of new ideas or "innovative" new products in which to invest their cash. The current investments they are making in the media and the internet show that they are afraid to take the gamble of major new ownership positions in this field, because of burned fingers in the past.

    And so their behaviour is perfectly predictable; buy an "indepent testing agency" here, buy a legislator there, buy a key media person somewhere else.

    This is the truth that they should have put in their recent message to shareholders!

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The Independent Institute is a legit organization, it's been around for years. Mostly they sell libertarian books. This tells you that if they publish a survey, it's going to support a free market approach (that is, MS will fall when people freely choose to stop buying their products - not when politicians tell them to). Suppose I do a study that shows that regulating vitamins is bad. I need money to publicise it, so I solicit a retailer like GNC. If you don't like the conclusion you should attack the research. Everything you read is paid for by somebody, but that doesn't make it untrue. BTW, Gates & co. seem quite unlibertarian, except where the DOJ is concerned, so most of Independent Institute's activities will get no support from MS.
  • You now, the whole tenure business is to insure
    the academic integrity (or I think so).

    The whole story reminds the my friend's cat who's
    name was Leibniz (the german phylosopher and
    mathematician, if you remember your calculus I).
    Leiby has a habit of rolling on this back and
    having anyone scratching his belly. THis reminds
    me those 'independent academicians and researches'
    on Billy's payroll. They are only happy when
    someone scratches their bellies ... (but I digress)

  • Errr isn't this how the US political advertisements run? Paid for by each party, with pro messages, and slagging the opposition?

    I'm not sure how the US handles this but in Australia any and all political advertising must be authorised and marked us such by the party concerned. ie. the public is always informed as to what is paid political PR and what is not, irrespective of which well-known identity/company/organisation is doing the promotion.

  • Who says he is not buying senators? Why would you put it past him?
  • I also agree with the last comment in the article about the DOJ trial being used by Netscape as a last ditch effort because they couldn't compete in a real market.

    Nonsense. What kind of 'real market' is it when your competitor gives away the product for free just to drive you out of business? Or sets up ties in deals that make use iof monopoly power to prevent you from distributing your product??

    This is as illegal as it gets.

  • Yes, it does seem that every week (day) a new story comes out where MS is found in something like this. The problem is.. beside all of us that come to this site at least once every day and read everthing.. who knows about it? Even when every Hotmail account was open I found that the vast vast majority of people didn't know about it, and these are the same people that don't know why people are making such a big deal about Microsoft and the DOJ.

    The usual sources this news come in to the mass audience is the small section in the local news where they will put a technology story or two but I guarrentee that this story won't make it to most news programs. Ideas?

  • This is a big problem. If the consumer doesn't know they are merely reading an ad, they are apt to trust it as expert testimony. A similar thing has happened with drkoop.com. An article in The New York Times a while back pointed out that Dr. Koop's site had "recommended" certain medical institutions, after being paid to do so. The page never mentioned that these "recomended" hospitals and such were paying the website to have their name mentioned.

    This happens far too often, and i think it happens more than we (the consumers) know it, or would like to beleive it. Makes me wonder how much MindCraft got paid.

  • (observe as this post is moderated into oblivion for being offtopic)

    I just visited www.windows2000test.com and it seems like it's much of the same BS that has been there all along. The thing that bugs me, though, is that there seem to be full-time microsoft advocates on the board. I wonder if Microsoft has paid some ppl to do this?
  • Our influence is measured by the code we can write, and who needs money to tell M$ that they have done the world wrong when we can better spend our time doing the world right?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 20, 1999 @03:50AM (#1672472)
    Not bad. A self-proclaimed independent institute claims MS never gave them more than "$10,000 per year, like our other 2000 members" and "the ads were paid out of our general funds". But the truth comes out! Microsoft paid them over $150,000 in compensation for the ads!

    Microsoft is not "just a software company".

    Look at what they did to Borland. Renting a floor of a hotel nearby, inviting their technical staff, and having recruiters handy to brain-drain them. Illegal, and they settled out of court, near the end of the trial.

    Stac? A signed contract to use Stac with DOS. Instead, they copied chunks of the source verbatim, released their own compression scheme, and claimed the contract was void. Once again, MS settles out of court near the end of a lengthy trial.

    Sun? Java? We know all about that one.

    They are other examples.

    Microsoft is a criminal organization, run by a megalomaniac, intent on controlling the minds of everyone on the planet. With hopes to someday control the minds of other planets!

    Harsh, overboard statement? They are criminal, I already stated three big cases. Unconvicted, but they paid dearly to maintain their "innocence".

    Bill Gates? A megalomaniac? Look it up.

    Mind control? One gui, one method of accessing information, and a company that has already been caught altering facts in their dictionaries when such facts contradicted the "Microsoft Vision". Suppose a child sees nothing but MS screens, clickables, and doctored information day one through adulthood? Arguably, there could be a profound psychological backdrop to such a thing.

    Other planets? Heh, they've pretty much got this one wrapped up unless the US gov. can rise above corruption, bribery and influence and lay the smack down on Billy the Borg.

    If not, it's going to be up to the rest of the world to band together, and improve Linux to the point where it can kill off the beast.

    Does this mean a bunch of MS tesimony is tainted and can be thrown out?
  • All Microsoft apparently did is find themselves a group of republican economist types that oppose anti-trust and do so under the benign banner of 'The Independent Institute'. They then gave them plenty of financial support and when these guys put their opposition to anti-trust, and specifically to the DOJ vs. MS trial, into words, they made very sure that those words were published far and wide. They then proceeded to hold these words up in court to demonstrate how even independent groups of economists believed that Microsoft had done nothing wrong.

    It seems that they neglected to mention in court that they funded the ads. I don't think presenting ads that were funded by them in court is wrong. I just think that the judge might have assigned somewhat less weight to them had he known. I think it was deceptive of Microsoft to introduce the ad as evidence in court.

    In short, I don't think Microsoft has done anything (really) illegal this time. I do think they were deliberately misleading about the nature of the ads. I do believe that they intended to mislead the court, as they attempted several times over the course of the trial. This could be considered illegal, but the judge has given them the benefit of the doubt every time so far, as evidenced by the fact that he hasn't tossed any of the Microsoft attornies or witnesses in jail for perjury.

    Supporting organizations that promote ideas that are beneficial to the company is something that many companies do. It's not illegal. It can be deceptive. It should probably be watched more closely than it is. People normally don't have the ability to discover who is providing the financial muscle to get these opinions out. This can be important information. I'd like to see it become much more readily available.

  • Microsoft has the right to freedom of speech. Says who?

    The Constitution give the people the right to free speech. Microsoft is not a "people", it is a corporation. It is financially considered a person, but not so in the strictest legal sense. Microsoft cannot vote, nor can it be arrested or imprisoned. It is not a person.

    None of this stops Bill Gates from saying whatever he wants and using his personal fortune to get the message out, but neither Microsoft nor any other corporation has inherant rights as outlined by the Bill of Rights.

    Congress has the right to legislate this and other marketing activities (like current regs on tobacco and drug advertising) because it has the right to regulate interstate commerce. You could argue that such restrictions do not apply to sole proprietorships (where the company is the owner), but not for a corporation.

    The concept of a corporation is really a legal divorce between the owner(s) and the company, where the owner(s) declare that they are not the company. This gives them certain protections, the most important being that the owners are no longer personally responsible for financial obligations of the company. In response, the company no longer is an extension of the person but becomes its own legal entity (though not a person).

    Obviously, if there are no laws that prohibit Microsoft's actions, they can do them by default. However, if there are such prohibitions (possibly contempt of court, obstruction of justice, or something similar), they cannot hide behind the right to free speech.

  • (nt)
  • Well, perhaps I'm reading too much in the series, but I always got the impression that the ST Borg are not really "evil"; if they have any connotation of good and bad at all, they probably think that they are doing the species being assimilated a favour. after all, they are part of this big, powerful Collective now...

    I guess that Bill more or less honestly thinks that the world would be a better place if everything ran Windows. The fact that some of us don't agree only means that some people haven't seen the "light" yet. and that's where spin doctors can help...

    So of course he smiles. He is going to rid us of this nasty diseasy called "choice".

  • The real story here is that the information in the article was stolen from the Independent Institute and somehow ended up in the hands of (to quote the NYT article) "a Microsoft adversary associated with the computer industry who refused to be further identified." Talk about dirty tricks. Check out the Institute's response to the NYT at http://www.independent.org/tii/news/990919Theroux. html
  • Someone takes adverts supporting Microsoft and you act shocked to find Microsoft paid ?

    What are you smoking ?

    Are there really Americans (apart from B.G.) who are so upset about the DOJ trial that they'd pay for ads to support Microsoft's point of view ?
  • Is that M$ didn't invent it. They licensed the code from SpyGlass.

    SpyGlass came in one morning and found that they had been put out of business by M$ releasing thier browser free. People who were paying Spyglass for the code dumped them and took M$ browser (which was technically the same thing).

    So don't get all gooey eyed about something until you know it's history.
  • >I don't care if you all think I worked for the
    >"great satan".

    Hey that's the ticket just turn off your moral compass! If you don't care then your consience will never bother you.
  • Their reputations just started a power dive to the lowest levels of hell. Relatively few people will trust them to have an opinion that isn't rented out to the highest bidder from here on in. Past opinions will be called into question. So long as people remember and associate them with this, they're screwed. I'd be pissed off if I were them.
  • Not what I meant, I meant that I don't care what you think about the companies I work for.

    Morality for me is avoiding killing people or polluting, not anything to do with business practices.

  • Oh yeah? Buy a share of MS stock and you can sue him till the cows come home. Winning is another matter, but you can sue him.

    Personally, I think it's nuts that corporations (which are, like copyright laws, supposed to be for the common good and as often as not are perverted) get a privileged status so readily. And no one ever revokes corporate charters anymore either (which is quite legal to do, if they aren't serving the common good, though the judicial system has forgotten this lately).

    However, I don't recall that corporations have freedom of speech, certainly not (de facto at any rate) at the interstate level.
  • Ayn Rand was a champion of those who compete and win, *without* resorting to theft, deception, etc.

    Bill Gates is no Hank Reardon. He's an Elsworth Toohey, highly skilled at robbing the real inventors, and using his money to escape the consequences.

    Check out http://www.netaxs.com/~esr/writings/libgates.html for ESR's excellent essay: "Why Libertarians Should Not Love Bill Gates."

  • Microsoft is a COMPANY, not a PERSON.

    People need the defense of the constitution. Corporations are a legal fiction created to make it easier to accumulate the capital required for certain tasks. They have no "rights".
  • Remande said: The Constitution give the people the right to free speech. Microsoft is not a "people", it is a corporation. ...the company no longer is an extension of the person but becomes its own legal entity (though not a person).

    All true, as far as it goes. Unfortunately for the rights of actual people in the US, the court system began extending the free-speech provisions in the Constitution to corporations several years back. Some odd things can grow out of this precedent. For example, one of the lawsuits over campaign finance reform resulted in a ruling that restricting campaign contributions unfairly limited people's right to free expression (though not speech per se), in that supporting a political party is a form of expressing your opinion. This doctrine has been called "One dollar, one vote," and consider this: if corporations have the same rights to free expression as people, then according to this doctrine a corporation could contribute millions to a party. Well guess what? They do exactly that--we have the best system money can buy! So even though corporations are not people, they are allowed some of the same rights as people, and worse yet they have far more funding with which to take advantage of those rights.

    It has been said that freedom of the press belongs to anyone who owns one: freedom of speech belongs to all but is a lot more significant for the person who owns a bullhorn. And Microsoft can afford a lot more bullhorns than any of us--indeed, in this article we see them buying bullhorns for others to use in their behalf. This legal precedent needs to be abolished, and the sooner the better. Corporations already have more protections than people, and just in the interest of balance they shouldn't have all our rights and privileges too.

  • by zaphod ( 2284 ) on Monday September 20, 1999 @01:37AM (#1672496) Journal
    I think everyone at Slashdot is jumping to conclusions. Microsoft would never undermind a research study! They would not try to spin the results in its own interests. Come on people!

    (This advertisment was paid for by Microsoft)
  • Microsoft claims that the case is hurting the consumers just as bad as it is hurting them.
    Given that M$ is the producer of the biggest OS in the market and also has applications such as M$Office and NT, how can the consumers not get hurt....
    Its just a simple fact that when a company gets hit by costs, the costs have to be transferred down to the consumers. Now all this is simple economix.
    What i want to know is how come Sun/Sgi/Ibm/Apple dont pick up on these things and make some media noise on their own ? Its dirty tricks like these that upset most people more than the fact that WinXX crashes every few times :)
    Dont get me wrong, I am not saying that these companies should go down to that level of flinging dirt, but just some tastefull comments should not hurt them.
    dont get mad at Gates.... get his marketers :)
  • Well what did we expect? This sort of stuff happens all the time. Remember the DivX "fan pages"?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    So what? Microsoft paid for some ads that attempt to manipulate public opinion. The fact is that Microsoft has the right to anonymously promote any opinion it wants. We might not like it, but we all have the right to freedom of speech. Why shouldn't Microsoft?
    I might not like Microsoft, but the fact remains that Microsoft has the right to try to manipulate public opinion, as does any individual. Microsoft can use any non-illegal means to do so.
  • Well, looks like Microsoft has their hand in the cookie jar again. The faked grassroots support campaign earlier was bad, since it came from the consumer's viewpoint. Now they've played the academics for fools. I bet those academics that said the antitrust case was a bad idea will look at their arguments again now :) That's quite a slap in the face to defend a company, and have them influence you indirectly. I'm glad my CIS labs don't use MS (knock on wood, see earlier story re: MS in Academic Use).
  • I think you have a point there accually (and yes, I realize your intent was humor). But the point is that mircosoft would never admit to underminding a research study. So that automatically gives me doupts as to the credibility of such an admittion.
  • Even though MS's practices aren't kosher, they are becoming consistent with other organizations: this sort of thing is exactly how other companies deal with US legislators.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    i had a DIVX FAN PAGE because it is such a great technology! much much better than dvd! you just wait!!! it is not gone forever, they are just improving it even more and will bring it back and it will imbarass dvd even worser than it did before! HOO BOY, divx rules!!!!!!

    i can get "prince of egipt" and lots of other k-rad dizney movies and watch it for just about a DOLLER or so WHENEVER I WANT to. on the other hands you dvd loosers pay FIFTY DOLLERS or so per dvd and then you probably only watch it once or twice if you watch it twice thats like paying TWENTY DOLLERS per veiwing. thats just dumb. sorry, but hoo boy DIVX ROX!!! and i am glad that i made the correct decison and bot a DIVX PLAYER!!! i will fight dvd to the death!!!!!! ohohohohohohhhoh

    windows is cool too, use windows, don't use linux or any other operating system unless you want to run the risk of pissing off bill gates. that is not a position you want to be in!!!! so the moral is use WINDOWS AND DIVX and shun linux and dvd! oh and microsoft didnt pay anybody to tell people good stuff about WINDOWS because they dont need to because WINDOWS IS JUST AS GOD AS DIVX

    Copyright (C) 1999, All-Purpose Trolls, Inc.
  • If I was one of the 150 people who participated
    in the advertisements. These people DIDN'T KNOW
    that they were being taken for a ride.

    Now their reputations are in question. Who
    should they sue?

    PS: Have you visited www.windows2000test.com lately? It's up and down like a mad whore's drawers.

  • . . . for one minute that M$ would play fair? This is becoming an overwhelming trend in corporate culture to use money and clout to sway everything to your advantage ( let's face it even our governments are easily swayed ). Sure, this has been going on for years, but I'd say in the last two or three years, things have gotten out of control. Bottom line is measured in Stock Prices instead of customer satisfaction and quality product. What can we do though? Our influence is measured by our socio-ecomonical standings. And who has the $$ to stand up to tell M$ that they have done the world community wrong?

  • Well, doesn't the devil *always* smile?
  • Yes, Micro$oft does have the right to pay for ads that manipulate public opinion, but they are, in a sense, attacking the US Govenment regarding the Anti-Trust case. Rights and ethics are two diffrent things. what they are doing is un-ethical and that is why it's wrong.

  • That's how it works in PR. You find someone who says something nice about your product and you promote the heck out of it.

    At the drop of a hat, I can quote analyst reports that promote my company's message. It doesn't mean I had anything to do with funding those reports but if they're saying what I want, then I'll shout it from the rooftops.

    I do have to admit this whole thing does look a bit dicey because the ad didn't look like it was financed by MS- the public perception was that the ad was placed by the Independent Institute, which was misleading. But if the document really was initiated and signed independent of MS, then the way it was promoted has nothing to do with the document's message.

    (And I will point out that I don't agree with that message, so don't go attacking me for thinking anti-trust suits are bad for consumers.)
  • So what? So what? There is something called ethics. Ethics covers areas that the law does not cover. What Microsoft did was unethical, bottom line. Just because it is not codified by law does not make it right.
  • What's amazing to me about this is my failure to be surprised. Microsoft has gotten to the point, at least in my head, where this is barely remarkable. I wonder if the general public feels the same way, or if I'm just an overexposed geek?
  • With a name like that, you know that it can't be a legitimate organization. The name should give some idea of what the organization does. This name sounds like something intentionally made up to be as generic as possible - which of course is what it is.
  • What does this tell us about the technical community? Coders are either working for Microsoft, writing WindowsXX programs, or writing open source. Doesn't Microsoft employ like 50000 programmers? Do they have opinions or do they keep their heads down and make as much money as possible? Could /. solicit a reply from a representative group of MS employees as to their job satisfaction?

    My point in short is that the technical communtiy seems to either support MS and keep their mouth shut about ethics or hates them.
  • /. should be using the Pie picture. That'd be more appropriate for the MS articles we often see on here.

  • He's supposed to look like a Borg drone from Star Trek. It's not his facial expression that's important, it's the implants he's wearing.
  • Microsoft has never been above buying the media and apparently they have enough to do it. They have used exactly the same tactics against OS/2 and Linux and have frequently tried to make it seem that there was a grass roots movement supporting them, except that everyone in the movement happened to be employees of theirs.

    I am somewhat disappointed that these various academic folks would whore themselves out this way, but lets face it, academia has for at least the past 50 to 100 years been more about making money and less about making knowledge, and I can't think of one academic institution in the US that wouldn't drop its pants if someone came calling with the right price.

  • Idiot star trek writers. They took a perfectly good distributed system and installed a single point of failure. That's the sort of thing that put me off of star trek (excepting the old series) and on to B5.
  • "Talk about dirty tricks"

    What kind of scum exposes an unprincipaled monopolist's unethical and possible even illegal attempt to subvert a court case! This is an outrage!

    With this kind of vermin running loose, what can we look forward to next? Hoodlums voluntarily writing stable, efficient operating systems AND DISTRIBUTING THEM FOR FREE??!!


    (for the sarcasm impaired, this was a joke. No flamo please!)

  • Since the ad was cited by Microsoft's expert witness economics (Schmalensee ) as evidence that many economists believe that Microsoft is a cute little Beanie Baby of a company, it could certainly hurt his credibility.

    If the judge still believes he has credibility, that is -- the Microsoft witnesses shot themselves in the foot more often than a 3-footed centipede...
  • Hey, Independent Institute changed their statement. Their fact #1 earlier said that their financial system had crashed and corrupted files. They were recovering them. Now it only refers to preliminary figures.

    The page was modified midafternoon USA time today.

    Last Modified: Monday, 20-Sep-99 20:30:49 GMT

    If someone else saw that page, do not not click on the URL and you can find the original in your ~/.netscape/cache

  • Could someone please give me the MS definition of innovation? MS "innovated" when they made Windows. It was a GUI. oooh. Guess what? Xerox, Macintosh and UNIX all had GUI's before MS came out with Windows. (Just take a look at the Athena widget set copyright dates in the source code if you don't believe me) where is the innovation?
    All Microsoft has ever done is silently "team" with a company, steal thier work and through lots of PR Men and Spin Doctor overtime pretend the company that actually did the work never existed. For example the SpyGlass/IE case mentioned earlier, or the SEGA/MS "team" now MS is coming out with a game system?! How much do you think they learned on thier own and how much did that get from stabbing SEGA in the back?
    Anybody that thinks Microsoft is "innocent" in any way needs to take a look at the many illegal tricks they have pulled. Like when they "teamed" with that Electronic Postcard company (I can't think of the name now. I can find it if anyone wants it though) then the deal fell through and all of a sudden a "bug" in Outlook stopped the postcards from that company from arriving in peoples emails. Last time I checked bugs don't block emails from a certain email address.
    What we need is a company to once and for all stand up and tell MS where to go. Heck, I have plenty of ideas for Software/Hardware products and Anti-MS campaigns. I tell you what, find me some investors and I'll step up to the plate.
  • I might not like Microsoft, but the fact remains that Microsoft has the right to try to manipulate public opinion, as does any individual. Microsoft can use any non-illegal means to do so.

    Whilst Microsoft may have a legal right to back these adds and attempt to manipulate public opinion, the public may not share Microsoft's sentiments.

    The legality of the tactic is irrelevant. As far the general public goes, its the intention that everyone is concerned with - and in this situation they have a right to feel burned.

    Public outcry is a powerful force and can go a long way to influencing decisions at the highest levels. However, as many politicians have found in the past, if you attempt to manufacture that outcry, then it has the potential to come back at you full force when the manufacturing process is revealed.

  • They will be independent when Bill Gates unclenches his butt enough so that they can pull their tongues out...

  • Insightful, my ass.

    This is nothing more than pro-Microsoft propaganda.

    Microsoft got caught with their pants down, yet again, and this guy, and the moderator who moderated this up, don't like it.

    Microsoft is utterly corrupt, and is destroying themselves. Their astroturfing won't do any good, in the long run.

    Interested in XFMail? New XFMail home page [slappy.org]

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Well, the reason being that despite not being directly illegal, it is non-the-less unethical and a rather honorless way of lying about the merits of your product. It is however very consistant behavior. however the, "why not" argument is really kind of a cop-out of the responsibility of being under scrutiny and still behaving in the same questionable manner. People seem to have no problem bashing our president for behaving poorly when under close scrutiny, but excuse companys when they pull the same manuvers. the point of doing or not doing something isn't just becasue the letter of the law says so, it's because it has moral and ethical attributes that are worth paying attention to. IMHO.
  • If you really look at the article, they don't admit to underminding the research. They just funded it. They "seem oblivious" to the fact that their money causes a conflict of interest. (If we give a bad report, Microsoft won't hire us anymore).

    Also, Microsoft is not alone in this. Many companies and political organizations pay for research and polls to justify their position.
  • by jflynn ( 61543 ) on Monday September 20, 1999 @02:03AM (#1672536)
    Well, clearly "independent" means something different in Microsoft's vocabulary. Mindcraft was "independent" too. They also experienced having their name dragged thru the mud. If Microsoft keeps ruining these "independent" organizations, there may not be one available when they need one someday.

    The full page ad in the NYT was brought up in the anti-trust trial. Interesting to speculate whether perjury occurred, or if the judge could decide part of Microsoft's case was no longer credible as a result.

    No need to topple Microsoft, I think, just stand back, they're doing quite well all on their own. Does one yell "Software!" when a behemoth starts to fall?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I belive the statement "I WOULD NOT HAVE PARTICIPATED" says enough about what was wrong with this. they did not encourage a response, but they paid the company to gather pro-MS opinions.
  • Well, at least one other person has a qualm with the anti-trust case (laissez faire capitalism ALL THE WAY), but that's offtopic.

    The truth is M$ "didn't" pay anyone to say anything, because that would probably be illegal. And if you were the one of the palms who got greased (ie the person quoted in the parent post), you're not gonna rat out the person who paid you! Duh.


  • Just about every company does things similar to this. Companies have a budget for advertising and a seperate budget for publicity. The publicity budget is spent on getting "independant" people to say good things about your product. There are national publicity firms which handle much of this, they pay reporters to review or do a story on a product in their magazine/newspaper/radio/television show. I'm not trying to say that MS was right, but this kind of thing goes on all the time.
  • >>"He should have told us," Simon Hakim, a Temple University economist, said when told yesterday of the financing. "I would not have >>participated if I had known. It's not right to use people as a vehicle for special interests."

    >Which indicates that the study was no way biased >by Microsoft's funding of the published results
    Ah, but it doesnt indicate that. Would the gentleman in charge have been quite as willing without the airfare, the 150k fat payment? I dont think so.

    >I also agree with the last comment in the article about the DOJ trial being used by Netscape as a last ditch effort because they couldn't >compete in a real market.
    Oh absolutely. How could they? They were the leader, and Microsoft came in and gave away for free a competing product and bundled it with 90% of the consumer market PC's. There isnt any inherent advantage there, no...

    "REAL" markets dont exist.

  • >You know what's really telling about this article? It's that slashdot readers don't even really feel
    >like commenting. We just take it as read that Microsoft does these kinds of things. It's not even news anymore.

    Or it's the pattern that repeats every time MS is caught red-handed astroturfing support a la the Steve Bartko affair, or in 1997, when they tried to convince hundreds of journalists that public opinion thought an HTML browser *should be* part of the operating system:

    1) nerds hear about this, many get upset, & respond in various fora with angry messages;

    2) other nerds respond, defending MS, saying in effect ``well, everybody else does it" but neglect to provide examples;

    3) discussion soon deteriorates into individual flame wars & OS religion wars, generating more heat than light;

    4) Microsoft reacts (at least overtly) by waiting another year or two before repeating another astroturf attempt.

    In other words, MS will continue to do this until they burn thru their multi-billion dollar warchest, no matter what we say or do.

    Then again, there are more useful ways for them to burn their money, so maybe we shouldn't complain too much about this manner.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    What if Microsoft is sponsoring the institute to begin with? The "Independent Institute" seems to promote pro-Microsoft propaganda as a major feature, so it's not unreseasonable to assume they backed them to begin with. Microsoft does this a lot; consider the anti-competitive lobbying arm of Bill Gates: Information Technology Association of America in Washington, DC.

    In the case of the "Indepedent Institue", Microsoft was tricking academics into thinking that they were supporting an "independent" analysis, not a bought and paid for one. Perhaps the academics would have looked into it harder if they knew the funding source.

    Who funds the "Independent Institute"? Why don't they tell us on their webpage?
  • Is there an equivalent offense under US law, and have Microsoft committed it?

    Yes and no. Yes, there is a law against obstruction of justice. No, this isn't against that law becuase the court is only supposed to rule on the evidence presented in court and not based on newspaper ads, articles or editorials. It generally is not against the law to lie in ads, articles and editorials unless it is done (a) to intentionally damage somone's reputation (i.e. libel and slander) or (b) to make (demonstrably) false claims about a product.

  • Made up grass roots campaigns, convoluted attempts at getting "experts" to agree with him, I don't know whether to be appalled by his stupidity or to admire his determination to work outside the system. Why doesn't he just open up his wallet and buy a few senators like everybody else?
  • But he's really not a drone, he's more like a Borg queen.
  • I tried to tell myself "Ayn Rand is right...Microsoft are good people...I like Microsoft...Microsoft only played fair, too bad the little guys couldn't take it..." well, I guess I was wrong...d'oh. I'm gonna go back to being a cynic about *everything*. What MS did this time was truly dirty.

  • Of course, QueSO and LWP reveal that the "Independent Institute's" Web site runs on Solaris and Apache. Just an interesting aside.
  • I try to keep an open mind about the Evil Empire, but they just keep letting me down.

    When the rumors first circulated that the Seattle Borg had been running propaganda [disinfo.com] under someone else's banner, I said to myself, "Self, this would not surprise me one little bit if it were true, but remember, it's just a rumor."

    Except of course, it's not.

    Big surprise.

  • If thats not a misnomer, I don't know what is.

    Makes me thinnk of scenarios from saturday morning cartoons where some wacky character labels a giant time bomb "not a bomb".

  • Here in the UK, that sort of behaviour is termed "Attempting to pervert the course of justice". It's very illegal, and if you try it and get caught you are liable to go to prison for rather a long time. In general judges have a bad attitude towards attempts to mislead or exert pressure upon them.

    Is there an equivalent offense under US law, and have Microsoft committed it?

  • The Independent Institute reply [independent.org] also claims that the stolen info is wrong because their financial computer crashed and destroyed files. I wish they had mentioned what operating system it was using...
  • Yes, and we have a free speech right to criticize them when they get caught.

    What was your point, exactly?
  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 )
    Hrmph. So Microsoft bought off a few people. You know what's really telling about this article? It's that slashdot readers don't even really feel like commenting. We just take it as read that Microsoft does these kinds of things. It's not even news anymore.

    What does that tell us about Microsoft's standing in the technical communities?


  • Well....

    If the company *must* raise it's prices b/c of the antitrust trial...and the consumers have *nowhere* else to get the software and are *forced* to pay the increased prices....

    I think M$ just shoots itself in the foot with the 'it hurts the cosumers!' argument.

Vitamin C deficiency is apauling.