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Microsoft Tricks

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Some of Microsoft's Dirty Tricks

The following list is just an example of some of the dirty tricks and unfair business practices Microsoft are constantly engaged in. I can only wonder how much more advanced the computer industry would be now if Microsoft didn't enjoy the monopoly situation it does. This list is roughly in reverse date order...

Not Interested in Facts! (3 November 2003)

A long-term temporary worker is fired after he posted a photograph on his Web site of Macintosh G5 computers being delivered to Microsoft. Maybe he revealed some sort of secret, maybe Microsoft was embarrassed because they use the opposition's computers (and always have).

Problem: Unfair control over information they see as negative.

Who Cares What the Courts Say? (30 September 2003)

Linux seller Lindows.com continues to help Californians process legal claims against Microsoft, despite a challenge by an attorney representing Microsoft sending them a cease-and-desist letter. The claims can be made as the result of a class action suit against Microsoft for anti-trust violations.

Problem: Stifling competition and innovation.

Propaganda Rules! (14 July 2003)

Microsoft argues that legislation and procurement guidelines, which allegedly discriminates in favor of open source software, is "protectionist", "anti-US" and "anti-Microsoft". The ISC, an organisation "supported" by Microsoft and Intel, pressures the South Australian state government to drop legislation supporting open source.

Problem: Using propaganda to scare users.

Only the Undead Like Microsoft (2002)

Microsoft's antitrust battle against the U.S. government has drawn hundreds of letter in support of Microsoft from unexpected sources. The Utah attorney general's office investigated the letters and found that a lot of the letters they received were the same, and many of them included falsified information such as names of dead residents. One was from a resident of 'Tuscon, Utah,' a city that doesn't exist. Other attorneys general involved in the case also received suspect letters. Well, no one amongst the living would support them!

Problem: Using propaganda and lies to support Microsoft's position.

What's the Truth Got To Do With Advertising? (15 October 2002)

Microsoft removes a phony Mac-to-PC switch ad after it was shown to be a fake. The ad was supposed to be a real life story written by a freelance writer who switched to Windows from the Macintosh. In reality it turned out to be an employee at a public relations company hired by Microsoft.

Problem: Using misleading advertising bordering on propaganda.

They Have to Pay You to Like Them

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that computer science professors mentioning Microsoft products in presentations are eligible to apply for a $200.00 reward. Apparently this is considered valid because the amount is so small.

Problem: Creating perceived approval amongst experts through corrupt practices.

Microsoft Will Tell You What To Report (1999)

Dan Gilmore, a reporter who had written some negative articles about Microsoft, discovers he's been assigned a "minder" at one of Microsoft's public relations firms, Waggener-Edstrom. This company specialises in misleading spin and targets anyone who presents information they don't want revealed.

Problem: Unfair control over information they see as negative. Propaganda.

You Must Install Microsoft Extensions

Microsoft insist Internet Service Providers must install their Front Page extensions or a misleading error message is generated when users try to load their information there.

Problem: Exploiting monopoly to force people to use their products.

No Deal? They'll Just Steal Your Idea (1999)

Microsoft add a TV program guide to their OS based on a product and business planned they gained during negotiations with a small startup, TV Host, when negotiations for a partnership failed.

Problem: Stifling competition and innovation. Stealing other company's ideas.

You Should Use Their Browser (1999)

Deliberately confusing messages are displayed when customers try to update Office at the Microsoft web site if they are not using Microsoft's browser.

Problem: Exploiting monopoly to force people to use their products.

Competition! They Can't Have That! (1999)

To stifle competition from Samba with their Windows NT 4 Server product, Microsoft made an unnecessary change to the communications protocol which made Samba incompatible. This could be reversed by changing the registry but references to how to do this were removed from their web site, in fact all references to Samba mysteriously disappeared.

Problem: Stifling competition and innovation.

Look, It Doesn't Work Now! (15 December 1998)

Microsoft tried to show they couldn't comply with a court order to remove Internet Explorer from Windows by showing a non functional version of the OS to the courts. But a Princeton Professor, Edward Felten, demonstrated a program written by two graduate students that removes Explorer safely. Next Microsoft's lawyers tried to show that the modified OS stopped the Windows update site working. But this was only because Microsoft deliberately changed it.

Problem: Using legal system for their own benefit.

All Competition Will Be Eliminated! (18 November 1998)

The digital greeting card company Blue Mountain Arts discovered that beta versions of Microsoft's Outlook Express were automatically filing their greeting cards into the junk folder and Microsoft's WebTV service was blocking their e-mail greeting cards as well. Maybe this was because Microsoft had recently started its own greeting card system after being unsuccessful in purchasing Blue Mountain Arts.

Problem: Stifling competition and innovation.

Not Only Dishonest but Also Stupid! (1998)

During the antitrust trials, Microsoft attempted to prove the inseparability of Windows and Internet Explorer by showing the judge a video. There was only one problem: The government's lawyer noticed that as the tape rolled on, the number of icons on the desktop kept changing. Microsoft sheepishly admitted to having spliced together footage from different computers to make its point.

Problem: Evidence Microsoft submits in trials is always suspect.

Using the System

The BSA, an organisation theoretically there to stop piracy, conveniently ignores use of pirated software if the organisation involved signs an agreement to buy and use Microsoft software in future.

Problem: Forcing use of their products

Compete and Confuse (1997)

Microsoft's new handheld computing device had to compete with the, already well established, Palm device so what better strategy could there be than stealing their name and calling it a Palm PC. They had to eventually back down on that one.

Problem: Deliberately confusing marketing.


Comment by Al Parker on 2006-07-13 at 13:35:02: I'm sick of people like you criticizing Microsoft. Everyone uses their programs and they work just fine. What is your problem? If Microsoft stuff was so bad they wouldn't be the biggest software company in the world, would they?

Comment by WF99 on 2007-11-25 at 09:02:45: So, if a company's successful, it automatically means that they produce a worthwhile product. Hey, I just realized why the masses love McDonald's!

Comment by OJB on 2007-11-26 at 12:14:56: I have always thought that, in many cases, commercial success is attributable more to poor products than good ones. Having a massive advertising budget means the products will sell more but that less is available for research and quality manufacturing, so the product won't necessarily be better. I'm not saying I have any data to back this up, but it seems to make sense, at least superficially.

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