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Microsoft Cranks Up FUD Machine


If I were Yogi Berra, I might say something like, “When times get desperate, the desperate get desperater.”

We’re hearing reports that Microsoft is having trouble pushing copies of the whiz-bang don’t-call-it-metro Windows 8 even at reduced fire sale prices, with one tech writer suggesting a Vista-esque rollback to Windows 7. The new Microsoft Surface Pro tablet that was supposed to make Microsoft the new Apple and Steve Ballmer the new Steve Jobs has brought less than enthusiastic reviews. What’s a down on it’s luck technology company to do?


If you’re Microsoft, you do what you’ve always done: round up the usual suspects, buy some genetically modified FUD seeds and start sowing them.

In two cases that hit the press yesterday, Microsoft has enlisted the aid of HP, their old FUD-mate Forrester Research and Dan Farber over at CNET.

Farber, a respected journalist and a bigwig at both CBS and CNET, and with a history at ZDNet, reported yesterday that research shows that most people who use a computer at work would prefer a Windows tablet over an Apple iPad. His source for this information was Forrester Research, who’s evidently back on Redmond’s payroll:

“Microsoft’s Surface Pro is apparently just what businesses want in what was formerly known as the desktop computer. If that’s the case, Apple’s brain trust may want to revisit the space where the Mac and the iPad intersect.

“According to Forrester Research’s annual survey of nearly 10,000 people around the world who use a computer to do their jobs an hour or more a day, 32 percent said they would prefer Windows over Apple or Android for their next work tablet. Currently, about 2 percent are using a Windows tablet for their work.”

Who would’ve guessed it? Here I thought the Surface Pro was going to be a tough sell at first. But heck, it looks like they’re going to go flying out the door. I imagine that already there’s a line of enterprise customers queued-up that extends from Microsoft’s Redmond campus all the way to downtown Seattle.

Forrester Research, some may remember, has a history of conducting “independent” research for Microsoft, much of it proving how astronomically expensive it is to deploy free software in the enterprise compared to good old reliable and secure Windows. I hadn’t noticed them and Microsoft working hand in hand for a while. I’m a little surprised, but I guess it’s time for the desperate to get desperater, as Yogi Berra never said.

I’m even more surprised that CNET is going along with this obvious FUD attack. After the black eye they took last week, when news got out that they and their parent company CBS had played favorites in awarding the Best of Show award at this years Consumer Electronics Show, I figured they’d be on their best behavior, trying to rehabilitate their reputation as an objective tech news outlet. Evidently not.

We also learned yesterday, from Nick Heath writing on ZDNet, that HP has also been running interference for Microsoft in the FUD game. In this case, HP was supplying Munich with figures to “prove” that a migration to Linux and OpenOffice would cost much more than using Windows and MS Office. The City of Munich didn’t buy what HP was selling, however:

Munich’s figures were challenged in a study produced by HP for Microsoft, which claimed the LiMux project would cost €60.6m, considerably more than claimed by the authority. In comparison, the report claimed, migrating to Windows XP and Microsoft Office would have cost only €17m.

However the costs in the Microsoft/HP report are based on several flawed assumptions, said Stefan Hauf, head of the press office at the City of Munich.

It seems that Microsoft’s FUD attacks aren’t getting as much traction as in days of old. I would feel bad for them, but I won’t.

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Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux.

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22 comments to Microsoft Cranks Up FUD Machine

  • linuxcanuck

    FUD is what they do best.

  • thomas

    Funny, every enterprise I have worked at doesn’t make decisions based on what employees would “like to use”; they hand you a device and say “use this”

    Jobs/Apple implemented what Gates/Baller dreamed of and will be unable to ever deliver, seemless and enjoyable implementation of technology into the lives of customers.

  • TonyY

    You know, when I read things like the above article I become ashamed of Hewlett Packard for allowing Microsoft to use them for the purposes of supporting Microsoft FUD and also for allowing Redmond to taint the good name of their company. You wonder what the enticement or coercion was.

  • Chris

    Yeah, that’s Microshaft for you. Their crap sucks, and I speak from firsthand experience. I tried the Windows 8 “technology preview” on Virtual Box last year and I found it very awkward on a desktop and virtually unusable without a touch screen. And, honestly, who wants to pay $300 more for a touch screen monitor? Plus, it’s ugly and dumbed down to the point of being the opposite of user friendly. But, rather than fix their own broken crap, M$ stays true to form and attacks everybody else’s stuff. They’ll never change.

    Seeing what they’ve done makes me glad a friend suggested that I try Linux a few years ago (when I was having problems with Vista.) :)

  • got runs?

    Until Steve Ballmer is removed Microsoft will only do the toilet swirl.

  • John

    If I was asked this question without looking closely at the tablets, my initial response would be pro-Windows tablet.

    At the time of purchase, however, I would look at the specs and price more closely. RT would get crossed off my list right away. Looking at cost, battery life, apps, weight and other specs VS what I needed to accomplish with the tablet, I would eventually settle on Android.

    Android tablets currently provide the best bang-for-the-buck. There s also much more variety except in the larger than 10.1″ form-factor (where Windows Tablets led by Lenovo, Dell, Samsung and HP) are breaking new ground.

  • Kees

    I don’t think this is FUD, people do not want to learn something new, they want to have something they are used to. If the run Windows on their PC, they would like a familiar interface on their tablet.
    I run Ubuntu on my private PC’s and would love to have Ubuntu on my smartphone and tablet, although I’m doing fine with Android.

  • istok

    Microsoft had a great run, several decades at the top, lots and lots of money earned, lots of arms twisted, and now it’s over. We’re witnessing a natural rise and fall that occurs in any industry. On the mobile front they were never a “player”, and now Google will kill them on the redefined desktop, via Chromebooks. According to what I’ve been reading (what with this Pixel thing..) and seeing (more manufacturers signing on)CBs are becoming more diverse, casting a wider net, and Microsoft will slowly be squeezed out of the consumer end. Businesses will hold on for as long as they can use XP (or 7, let’s be generous).
    Given that context, so what if they turn to FUD and propaganda? You would too if you were them.

  • zbeefy

    What do you expect? Make a tablet that’s BETTER than iPad, not DIFFERENT than iPad, and it will take off easily.

    And another thing, why in the heavens would you shove an interface lacking the start button down the peoples’ throats, if the majority explicitly objected?!

    Want a good idea? Look at what Clement LeFebre is doing with his Linux Mint project. He and his team make compromises and decisions based on what people want.

  • I got screwed out of three legally bought licenses back when M$ unleashed WGA. My legal copies were falsely indentified as pirated. Even though M$ acknowledged I had the legal disks, my computers were in constant boot and M$ REFUSED to give me new keycodes. “Buy more licenses”, I was told. ARROGANCE! Nobody ever mentions Microsoft’s real problem, that everyone hates them! I use Linux now which is vastly superior to Microsoft’s H1-B-Outsource generated crap. Microsoft are stupid criminals and I will NEVER buy anything from them again. I tell everyone about Linux and constantly install it for FREE! Microsoft can go to HELL!

  • Every time Microsoft has a slump in sales (i.e. initial Windows 7, and now Windows 8), they release this rubbish. I’ve already disgarded it and wait for the next. Thankfully people aren’t paying as much attention to it anymore.

  • dabooch

    Good! I like it when MS is desperate – it leads to much hilarity and funny things for all.

  • A.

    I beg to disagree. What the study says is that 32% WOULD prefer Windows over iOS or Android for their NEXT tablet. The two words in capitals say it all: yes, iOS and Androis are nice, but can you run a Haskell compiler on them? What about LaTeX? Penetration testing tools? Wolfram Mathematica? VMWare? Well, guess what, you can run these all on Surface Pro!

    Please note that the interviewed people did not say that MS beats Apple or that Windows is king. They made no comparison between the *current* products. They’ve just said that, between a tablet with limited functionality and one with desktop-like functionality they *would* choose the latter. It seems common sense to me, really. Where do you see the FUD here?

    Calm down, Linux people, Linux is nice and sweet, but Windows 7 (I can’t speak for 8, I haven’t tried it) is faaar away from the catastrophy that Windows 95 was (the OS that made me jump into the Linux boat). W7 is a nice OS, there’s nothing that I can be ashamed of by using it. MS is not that shitty as many uninformed Linux users think.

  • Will

    Ububtu lost many ubuntu users because unity was shoved on us. I know some people who love win 8, I dont. I use windows 7 and ubuntu together and both have their weak points and their strong points. I will bet the biggest compliners don’t make in one year what ms spends out of petty cash in one day.

  • McCoy Pauley

    Gotta hand it to them, though. WinDOHs98 was their high water mark, but they’re still raking it in. Apparently there ARE enough Honey BooBoo watchers out there to keep them alive.

    Yeah, J-Man! Like you, I’ve converted hundreds of n00bs with a free install of user-friendly distros like Mint. And every single one of them is now a MikeRoweSoft hater.

  • nord

    Will, what is exactly windows 7s strong points?
    I can find only weak ones.

    You can run that and that program on it? Well thats not because windows is good. But just because its commonly used, and devs who want to make money program for it.

    Im a sysadmin, administrating windows domains and lots of *nix servers.

    The reason why windows is still in use, is that most people dont know better.

  • justsomeguy

    @A:

    Yeah, credit is due where it is. W7 they did a decent job with it. It’s nothing that made me jump the Linux ship, but at least I recognize it’s not as garbage as many of their other OS’ (Vista being at the top of the list and having used Win8, I think it’s a bit of a joke. There are pluses but they do NOT outweigh the minuses. Not by a long shot).

    iOS is a different story… Android tablets actually can run most of the things you are talking about. Throw on a custom rom. iirc there is a LaTeX compatible app you can install on Android and the penetration testing tools I have no clue what you are talking about. If you are going to be running that, it would not be on a tablet anyhow (Unless you are silly/think you’re edgy).

    Really moot argument, methinks. The problem with Microsoft’s information is usually it is flawed. A lot of the “research” studies are debunked shortly after they come out and it’s common for people to expect information that is LEGITIMATE (assuming it is) to be FUD as well.

    How are we misinformed? In what sense? Are you sure you’re not feigning the idea of objectivity by implying our subjectivity? What of yours, then? If this was the first time that we’ve seen FUD campaigns from Microsoft (my favorite one to this day is the garbage “training” they would give to Bestbuy employees comparing Linux and Windows, which was a joke) then yes, I would agree with your assertion.

    Their track record is smeared in hilarious nonsense and FUD. What else are we to expect of them?

    Also, to note, I played around with a few surface tablets. Not impressed. The UI is relatively smooth (on the most expensive ones anyhow) but the offering vs the cost and other elements makes the entire ordeal underwhelming in my humble opinion.

    I am interested to see how Ubuntu/Tizen tablets will do. I think this will change the landscape a fair bit, but who knows? They might not be as good as some might imagine them to be. Lets find out.

  • Curt

    Microsoft’s ‘research’ is always flawed. Their numbers always shoot low, trying to make themselves look good.

    If someone would come out with a decent Outlook/Exchange alternative for Linux, you would see Linux take over the market in the small business world, and gain a good foothold over the large enterprise world. Once that would start happening, then developers would take more notice and start offering their MS/MAC OS programs in Linux.

    I run Windows 7 at home and at work. I took a look at Windows 8 and I thought that it would be just like Vista. I understand wanting one code base for Desktop/Tablet/Mobile devices, but having a touch screen interface for all three is just plain stupid. One size does NOT fit all in the computer world with 3 distinct form factors. I run Windows because my wife has a couple of specialty programs that are Windows only. I used to dual boot Windows 7 and Linux Mint, but Windows got real dodgy with updates, and my had to wipe my laptop and start over.

    I do like Linux, but it doesn’t have everything I need in terms of programs for home.

  • drDoctor

    @Curt, I agree with some of what you said but I, too, said the same thing a few years back about “specialty programs that are Windows only”. Well, I run Linux exclusively now because I had to find a way to break free of the Windows leash. Does it take a little effort? Yes because none of the manufactures or software designers are going to help (readily). Does it take other programs to run “specialty programs”? Yes but it is possible. Crossover has been a Godsend and I use it for “clients” that “have to have their [fill in the blank]”.

    I can tell you that Linux is far more capable than “others” would have you believe. It takes a little more work in the beginning but I am here to say that it makes my life easier in the long run. That is something that Microsoft cannot say.

    The motto comparison should be:
    Microsoft – Designed with Us in mind.
    Apple – Designed…never you mind.
    Linux – Designed by you and your mind.

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  • Sum Yung Gai

    Microsoft execs know their company’s in danger of losing the monopolistic hold they have over people, and they’re scared, pure ‘n’ simple. Among GNU/Linux distros, I tend to steer current Microsoft Windows users to Kubuntu. Its KDE desktop looks more like what they’ve seen before than Unity does, so they’re good with that. Basically I tell ‘em, “think of it like an upgraded MS Windows, without the Metro crap or the virus problem.” They go, “OK, cool, got it,” and they’re just fine. Two years later, I find that they’re still using Kubuntu and still like it. *That* is success.

  • Eddie Jetson

    It sad…..the once great “King” of software….desktops…servers…applications….is now subjected to things like THIS to try to retain their validity! But it was bound to happen sooner or later….Nature hates a vacuum. And it was only a matter of time before people started asking themselves “Besides Microsoft….what ELSE is out there”?…I for one am not sad to see them go….even if they don’t go “completely”…as long as they’re not the only “source” anymore for getting things done! Long Live Open Source! ;o)