Microsoft Versus
Dissecting Microsoft | Directory

Microsoft Marketing

Microsoft's False Advertising

Microsoft's claims of security, scalability, and low cost in their marketing is often laughable. One attempt to claim Microsoft's software is more secure than a safe was pulled by the Advertising Standards Authority of SA. Microsoft was not capable of proving their software's security by an independant source.

The UK Advertising Standards Authority upheld complaints of a misleading advertisement by Microsoft comparing the cost of [Linux] against Microsoft® Windows™. The ad claimed Linux to be 10 times more expensive than Windows. The questionable component was Linux was running on an IBM mainframe while Windows was running on a much cheaper Intel computer but was misleading viewers into thinking the cost comparison was of the operating systems alone. A fair comparison could easily have been made on identical hardware. Therefore the comparison was not of only the operating systems, but of the hardware as well.

All of Microsoft's marketing claims, from their web sites to conference speeches to magazine advertisements, should be evaluated with reasonable doubt.

Microsoft Advertises Against Themselves

With each new release of an application, Microsoft® usually promotes features of stability and security, especially in their Windows™ product line. These are of key concern to most businesses. In promoting their product stability, Microsoft is countering two other product groups: competitors and previous versions of their own products. Microsoft is continually criticized for having relatively insecure, unstable products. Therefore with each new release they must advertise increased stability and security against their own older products.

Take Microsoft bCentral for example. It's advertising targeted at small businesses. It promotes Windows XP and Office XP as products "that [don't] hold you back. A system you can count on to stay up and running so you can focus on your customers; with added features to protect your computers from viruses. And with enhanced security features so you can lock away and control access to your business-critical information." If I already have small business systems running software from Microsoft's competitors, I'll read this as advertising against those competitors. But while Microsoft has a decent share of the small business market, many of their own customers may read the marketing material as advertising against Microsoft's own products which they are already running.

Windows 98 was widely used in small businesses for workstations years after Windows XP was released. Their own bCentral site compared Windows XP to Windows 98 in a way which put down 98 as far inferior.

Microsoft Pays Think Tanks To Market For Them

Many think tanks attack the [Open Source] software development model, a major competitor to Microsoft. "The Small Business Survival Committee is concerned that using open source will expose small business to the risk of lawsuits. Citizens Against Government Waste is concerned that the government might waste money on Open Source. Defenders of Property Rights is concerned that Open Source might be a threat to intellectual property rights. However, [there's] a common theme to all their criticism. They all seem to be funded by Microsoft." (Emphasis added.) Tim Lambert has extensively documented the opinions of many think tanks and shows they are funded by Microsoft. This wouldn't be a big issue if those think thanks disclosed the sources of their funding. Then everyone could make their own decision on whether or not the think tanks are biased. But the fact that Microsoft funds so many in [secret] and that they all attack Microsoft's biggest competitor is a clear indication that Microsoft is a major influence. This undermines the image and trust of think tanks. It also underscores Microsoft's indirect and secretive tactics against competitors.

Copyright © 2004-2007 Matthew Schwartz