Some of Microsoft marketing tactics that did not affect me have been documented by mainstream publications. Almost forgotten now is the fake grassroots campaign of 1998 and the earlier Microsoft Munchkins. I'll allow Tech TV to refresh our memories about Microsoft's astrotufing:
Let's outline the Los Angeles Times's discoveries. Apparently the paper got hold of a large binder of memos promoting a complex scheme to hit various states with fake letters to the editor, editorials, and op-ed pieces paid for by Microsoft and planted by teams of PR agencies (headed by Edelman PR) ... From the Times article:
"According to the documents, local PR agencies are scheduled to begin submitting opinion pieces to the media next week, followed in the coming months by waves of other materials, including glowing accounts from Microsoft partners, consumer surveys and studies designed to show the company's impact on each region's economy. Letters to the editor are to be solicited from regional business leaders. Opinion pieces are to be written by freelance writers and perhaps a 'national economist, 'according to one document. The writers' fees would be 'billed to Microsoft as an out-of-pocket expense.'
"The campaign, which could cost millions of dollars, is designed to generate positive stories at critical junctures in Microsoft's legal battles. One round of stories, a document says, 'will coincide with April 21 oral arguments' before the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Microsoft's motion to disqualify Lawrence Lessig as special master in Microsoft's antitrust case."
As for the Munchkins, let's let John Dvork tell the story:
Some years back, Microsoft practiced a lot of dirty tricks using online mavens to go into forums and create Web sites extolling the virtues of Windows over OS/2. They were dubbed the Microsoft Munchkins, and it was obvious who they were and what they were up to. But their numbers and energy (and they way they joined forces with nonaligned dummies who liked to pile on) proved too much for IBM marketers, and Windows won the operating-system war through fifth-column tactics.
Mr Dvorak wonders if Microsoft is today using reverse-dirty-tricks to promote the Xbox 360: pay people to create Web sites that slam the gaming computer in order to provoke a barrage of defenders.