Thursday

Thursday 17/10/2002It's not been a good week for Microsoft. First, it's caught cheating in its advertising: what purported to be a true-life confession of a user who switched from Macintosh to XP turns out to be a concoction of an advertising agency.

Thursday 17/10/2002
It's not been a good week for Microsoft. First, it's caught cheating in its advertising: what purported to be a true-life confession of a user who switched from Macintosh to XP turns out to be a concoction of an advertising agency. One wonders why they had to make it up -- could they really not find a single person who'd made that change and was prepared to talk about it? But the best bit was the way the misleading advert was uncovered: Microsoft had forgotten to remove information from the header of a Word file associated with the campaign. Security? What does Microsoft know about security? Not a lot, as the subsequent events of the week show. Its beta-test programme was hacked, letting person or persons unknown full access to a wide range of unreleased products, as well as the comments and buglists created by the testers themselves. A company spokesman said, "they are grabbing product, and it's going to be buggy and it's going to have problems", but didn't clarify how this differed from a normal launch. Doubtless these quantifiable failings of Microsoft's software, not to mention the falling market, have impacted on its bottom line -- but what's this? Sales and revenues both sharply up? Twenty-six percent? TWENTY SIX? This isn't, as you might at first think, the signs of a monopoly squeezing still more cash out of a market just because it can, but instead a rather ironic commentary on the popularity of its new licensing deals -- which are indeed another tweak on the teat of the moo-cow of the IT world. In an attempt to forestall the cost increases of the new schemes, everyone's been signing up on the old ones just before they go away and this rather expensive rebellion has boosted Redmond's reserves. It's what happens next that'll be interesting.

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