Robert McLaws: Windows Edition

Blogging about Windows since before Vista became a bad word

Microsoft "Gifts" and Ethics

Apparently, the web is aflame over a bunch of new computers. But the whole story hasn't been reported on. Plus I intend to add my two cents.

When I was at Gnomedex this year, I was discussing the Featured Communities program with the AMD rep that was there. He told me that I should "keep an eye out" because "some cool hardware would be coming to Featured Communities at the end of the year." My thought? SWEET. I love trying out new hardware.

Now, I don't know if Microsoft is the one that initiated the deal, or if it was AMD. But what I do know is that it was initially an effort to get AMD computers in the hands of Microsoft enthusiasts, at a time when the processor wars are heating back up. Microsoft decided to add Vista after the fact. AMD decided to go beyond Featured Communities members, which is why others have gotten them too

When I got the e-mail giving me a choice betwen a couple systems, I was told that I could either give the system away, or keep it for myself. Being the selfish greedy b@stard that I am, and having dealt with the crappiest Tecra M4 in the world, I decided to keep mine. So, some people think that's bribery. Fine. Some people think the Holocaust didn't happen, too. You get SWAG for going to a conference, why is this any different? I was a Microsoft MVP for 3 years, which was a reward for past efforts with Microsoft software, trips, and buttloads of NDA information. Is that bribery too?

So why does accepting a laptop compromise ones integrity? Brandon and others have been brow-beaten for taking it... you think that their opinion of Microsoft was bought? Gimme a friggin break man. I, like the others that got a new toy, were pro-Microsoft LONG before we got said toy. We'll be pro-Microsoft long after, and not because we "got free crap".

It couldn't have been that AMD and Microsoft wanted to give presents to their friends at Christmas. So we should give them back. Then all of you should send back your Christmas presents, too. Because you've never tried to buy anyone's love at Christmas, right?

You can flame us all you want. Question our credibility if you want. Say we "sold our souls" for $2400. Fine. Most of you have been taken out to lunch for a business deal or interview. And most of you have made up excuses to have your company "comp" a trip to a conference. So get off your freakin high horse, you don't have the moral high-ground. Read my blog, don't read my blog. I don't care. But don't act like you're so altruistic.

Hopefully there's no question where I stand on the issue. And thanks to AMD and Microsoft for the fantastic gift. It was one of the best Christmas presents I ever got... at least it will be when I pick it up tomorrow. But I still think the Core 2 Duo is better.



  • Oh yeah... would there be people playing the ethics card if AMD & Microsoft send a bunch of Apple bloggers Vista laptops?

    December 28, 2006 12:41 AM
  • So apparently some people got a free laptop which was payed by AMD and Microsoft. I say: good for them,

    December 28, 2006 5:20 AM
  • My opinion on the laptop thing isn't important. However dragging the holocaust into this story is sick man. It's not even comparing apples to pears, it's just sick comparison.

    December 28, 2006 5:57 AM
  • Adel said:

    "My opinion on the laptop thing isn't important. However dragging the holocaust into this story is sick man. It's not even comparing apples to pears, it's just sick comparison."


    December 28, 2006 6:14 AM
  • azz0r said:

    Such is life, a nice gesture gets *** on by hate mongers.

    Its a shame because I'm sure the people who thought about doing this and executing it feel cheap and nasty after reading some peoples remarks, when all they wanted todo was something positive.

    Le sigh.

    December 28, 2006 8:11 AM
  • JoeM said:

    Good deal.  Let us know how it is.  I have been running Vista for the past month, and I am verry happy

    December 28, 2006 8:23 AM
  • SuperMatt said:

    I read on another blog that MS now wants the laptops back.  Is that true?

    December 28, 2006 9:41 AM
  • Microsoft laptop giveaway!

    December 28, 2006 10:17 AM
  • Dave Murdock said:

    Here is my blog post on the topic:

    In short Robert, it doesn't matter if Apple gave away MacBook Pros instead of MS giving away Acers, it's still unethical to keep the "gift". It is compensation for either past work (that's how you got on the list) or for implied future work (positive opinion on Vista and MS).

    This isn't about hate mongering as azz0r suggests, but expecting a higher ethical standard from people that are in a position of power, and for many in the tech community that has become bloggers. It's the same reason Senators and Congressman should not be accepting "gifted" travel or meals from lobbyist, and the public outcry that ensued because of it, anything given as free that others have to pay for influences opinion, you can say all day you were already so pro-MS that this couldn't put you any higher, it's still inappropriate.

    If you want to cancel Christmas next year, go for it. But receiving a $2400 laptop from a huge corporation as a Christmas does not equate to a gift exchange between family and friends. You have to be smarter than that, or you are the most cynical *** on the planet.

    December 28, 2006 10:32 AM
  • Dave said:

    I see nothing wrong with what you've done. But I'm aware that I only have your word for this.

    Ever hear of the term "slippery slope"?


    Come November 2008 I plan to sell my vote to the highest bidder. I mean, I've been on record about how my vote DOES NOT MATTER at all! I've been anti-Washington politics since LONG before now!

    So why does my auctioning off my vote compromise it's integrity? After all, it's not like I'm voting more than once.

    It couldn't be that the GOP and Dems merely want to give due value for my vote. It couldn't be that I would have voted for [insert candidate name here] anyways. No, all you brow-beaters out there immediately jump to the conclusion that I'm a cynical self-centered voter wanting the biggest payoff!

    I just wish you all would get off your freakin high horse and moral high ground, and just trust that I'm as credible on this subject as any other citizen. Oh, there' NO QUESTION where I stand on the issue.


    So tell me Robert, where does that slippery slope you're on lead to? When DO you cross that line?

    December 28, 2006 11:03 AM
  • Wesley Shephard said:

    "Most of you have been taken out to lunch for a business deal or interview. And most of you have made up excuses to have your company "comp" a trip to a conference. So get off your freakin high horse, you don't have the moral high-ground."

    Wow, I sure love visiting a blog and having *my* ethics called into question for simply dropping by. The fact that Microsoft is now asking for the laptops back sure makes the argument that there was nothing dodgy about the ethical angle of hanging onto them weaker.

    December 28, 2006 12:24 PM
  • Well, I guess I will be posting my review anonymously.

    December 28, 2006 12:49 PM
  • "but expecting a higher ethical standard from people that are in a position of power,"

    It is only unethical if there is a quid pro quo exchange.  If someone is given a gift and there is no return expressed, favorable reviews, censored information, whatever, then it is just that a gift, nothing more.  

    If those who gave the gift expect something in return, then the giving itself may be unethical on their part, but that does not make receiving the gift also unethical, unless terms are expressed in the exchange.

    Microsoft is not going to make such statements, not even imply them as they fully understand the repercussions.  I would imagine that they are hoping that those who got the gift will run Vista, and like it enough that they will post about it, but there is nothing unethical about that.

    This sounds more like jealousy to me, it is certainly not unethical.



    December 28, 2006 1:06 PM
  • Andy G said:

    Robert, not sure if you will have the time to read it, but I have read about all the debate in regard to this. Normally I do not post on much outside Exchange - but I have passed comment here: - I have to admit I am on your side.

    December 28, 2006 2:03 PM
  • Dave Murdock said:

    Joel Spolsky has weighed in, I think worth the read, and he will NOT be taking the laptop:

    Anthony Clendenen, you quoted me, so let me address your conclusion. I have absolutely no jealousy whatsoever. To be jealous I would have to conclude the Acer Ferrari laptop with Vista Ultimate was not only desirable, but something I coveted. Not only is this laptop not desirable, it is actually laughable. How absurd for a premium car manufacturer to try to use brand extension, to sell computers. There is no logic to it at all. Ferrari's strategy here is kinda sad. I was in the Ferrari Store in Rome a few months ago, briefcases, pens, umbrellas, notepads, gloves, and clothing all at ridiculously high prices, even by Rome standards, because the Ferrari shield had been added. Talk about brand dilution,

    December 28, 2006 2:25 PM
  • James W said:

    Ho ho, the rationalization circle jerk continues.

    Basically, you've ensured we know where you stand. That is, where everything you say has to be taken with a tonne of salt.

    I know you don't care about some random guy on the internet, but you've just ensured I won't particularly care for anything you have to say, marketing shill.

    December 28, 2006 7:38 PM
  • Anyone can think I'm a marketing shill if they want. This laptop doesn't make me any more or less so. Microsoft pays for a bunch of different types of people to come to campus for different reasons, some of which I have participated in.

    I was a Microsoft fan long before they started giving me stuff. Google me, I started writing long before I was a Microsoft MVP in 2003. And I'll be a Microsoft fan long after. Like I said, read my stuff, don't read it, I don't care.

    And Microsoft didn't ask for them back. The PR firm working the other end of the deal did. Microsoft did not ask for any of the Featured Community machines back.

    Don't believe everything you read.

    December 28, 2006 9:31 PM
  • and Wes: I wasn't questioning YOUR ethics, only the ethics of the people questioning mine and my friends'.

    December 28, 2006 9:45 PM
  • Since I’m a recipient of a Ferrari 5000 from Acer, I’m obviously biased towards Microsoft’s motives. I personally began blogging on Microsoft technologies to refrain from sending my clients too many emails - or emails that were not pertinent to them at the time.

    I’m not a “journalist” – but even professional IT consultants have “ethics” too. I could not be successful without telling the truth, being fair, doing my own research, verifying my research, and creating original content.

    As a Microsoft consultant it’s my job to be familiar with technology BEFORE my client sees it. Or more importantly, BEFORE they have a problem with it!

    My TechNet subscription provided me access to the betas of Windows Vista (along with the many incremental upgrades). For almost two years, I’ve participated and provided feedback in Windows Vista forums, webcasts, training and labs.

    I’m pleased and humbled that my blog is “popular” beyond the people that I personally support. Microsoft named me MVP for providing technical assistance beyond my normal professional responsibilities. Being provided an evaluation computer from Acer is not a “bribe” - it simply allows me to accelerate my evaluations, documentation and demonstrations of Windows Vista.

    December 28, 2006 11:57 PM
  • Matt said:

    In my opinion, its simple, everyone is being immature and complaining that getting a free laptop is unethical and are probably the exact ones that didn't receive one and in turn are jealous.

    December 29, 2006 12:35 AM
  • ford said:

    You should auction the laptop off for charity like others are doing.  That is the honorable thing to do.  Give the money, to the EFF, WWF, or whatever charity that floats your boat. Keeping this 'gift' just amplifies that you are susceptible to being bought-out in the future, which in turn clouds your credibility.  What is more valuable, a laptop or your reputation?

    Here is a list of charities if you need one:

    December 29, 2006 8:21 AM
  • Geoffrey said:

    I would keep it if I received one. Why not? If MS wants to donate laptops to people, let them. I do not question you for accepting it. I do question Microsoft for giving them though. They're too cheap to give the 99$ Expression Web to their MSDN customers, but they're happy giving 2400$ laptops to some 'random' bloggers. Thanks, MS!

    December 29, 2006 12:00 PM
  • stubear said:

    Right on. I am so sick and tired of the Microsoft bashing on the internet.  Every little thing is scrutinized but in the bizarro world of the internet if any other company had done this it would have been a good thing.  You hear all the anti-Microsoft people whine abouf the FUD Microsoft puts out but there is far more FUD like this put out by these very same people.

    December 29, 2006 12:08 PM
  • mb said:

    Oh please stubear quit your whining. Poor billion dollar MS who has to put up with bloggers bashing them. Boo hoo, how ever will they survive?. Microsoft does just fine all by itself and I've yet to see the amount of anit-MS fud reach the level of fud Microsoft get out to corporations regarding competing technologies. The multi-billion dollar corporation that is Micorsoft can get along plenty well without the fanboism I see going on here.

    December 30, 2006 11:21 AM
  • Clicked said:

    I'm still catching up on a week's worth of material, so bear with me. It looks like there were two big...

    December 30, 2006 2:38 PM
  • The funny thing is, people are focusing on the law of reciprocity... and looking at it from the Microsoft-initiated angle. Here's the thing, guys... I started blogging about MS before they started sending me to Microsoft to interview Jim Allchin and sit in on presentations. So who is reciprocating to whom here? Maybe the fact I'm mostly positive but tough when I need to be gets me credibility and access? Oh wait, so only when I'm bashing Microsoft am I credible?

    Being a Microsoft MVP is a reward for past performance, not a guarantee of future performance. Case in point, I'm not an MVP anymore, because last year I didn't meret their 'standard'. So just because they gave me stuff in the past doesn't mean I'm going to give them positive press in the future. I've chewed them out for stupid moves on plenty of occasions, most recently when they didn't put Expression Web on MSDN. And I'll tear them a new one if they don't make Vista affordable for families.

    December 30, 2006 5:22 PM
  • VK said:

    you might be MVP, but history is not your strong point or do you want to be chutzpah VIP as wel.. (tempting, REAL money instead of crappy laptop, I know)

    December 31, 2006 11:04 AM
  • Omar said:

    Hello Robert,

    Congrats on the notebook.  It's your choice as to whether or not you want to keep it, and I don't see it as bribery.  You are helping out by trying the product and providing the people with a good review.

    Would appreciate it if you could support my blog below:

    Thanks and have a Happy New Year!

    December 31, 2006 9:09 PM
  • Omar,

    While I appreciate your kind words, I don't agree with your methods. I didn't start blogging for the purpose of getting free stuff. I blog because I like talking about Microsoft and Windows. You're blogging for the sole purpose if acquiring free hardware, which IMO is not why Microsoft would oblige you.

    Sorry man. But thanks for reading the site.

    January 1, 2007 12:48 AM
  • Frank said:

    You hit the nail on the head! Except...

    "We'll be pro-Microsoft long after"

    You should never be pro-anybrand. Every brand has their goods and bads. :)

    January 1, 2007 1:10 AM
  • Hey John, any particular reason you needed to bash your readers former readers and drag up a two month

    February 13, 2007 11:07 PM
  • April 1, 2007 11:50 AM
  • You know, this whole debate over the Federated Media "People Ready" ad campaign really chaps my a$$.

    June 23, 2007 3:51 PM