That Darned Computer

While I’ve been trying to work over the past day, my last post here on Microsoft’s PR backpedaling on the laptops they sent out to some bloggers has seen more than 60,000 page views (in case you were wondering). I’ve been called some incredible names, some quite funny. Inbound links were perfectly pleasant but many nasty comments. I probably deserved some of that criticism, the tone of the post was pretty obnoxious – but I stand behind it. It was a PR blunder for Microsoft to say “keep them as long as you like,” then after one day of criticism urge people not to keep the laptops. Whatever. I’ll make sure the thing is put to good use, either by myself or by someone who needs a laptop more than I do. Quite a few people emailed me to ask me to give it to them.

Ok, back to work.

**Some more thoughts on this after further reflection – and fresh traffic from a BBC link, strangely to this post and not the previous one.

Sending laptops to select bloggers to test out Vista seems like a perfectly viable PR strategy. Telling them they can keep them as long as they like increases the likelihood of software being installed and a more serious personal investment being made in giving the hardware a serious look. Sending out hardware for review is a very common practice but it clearly upsets some people who believe it to be an unfair, illegitimate use of resources and a shot at bloggers’ integrity. (I’ve said that if your integrity can be bought for a laptop, then you don’t have much integrity in the first place.) None the less, it’s a tough catch 22. Backing down after a day of criticism and not having a clear position at any point was Microsoft’s biggest problem in my mind. Did I mention that I don’t like Windows, too? That’s just how it goes. I’m not terribly happy with my Mac either, for what that’s worth. Get me to the web and let me use my web aplications.

PR in a changed media landscape is tough and I’d love to see some more examples of big, old companies doing a better job of it. What a strange episode this has been.