updated 01:20 pm EST, Wed December 27, 2006
Microsoft Free Notebooks
Microsoft may be attempting to steer the initial reaction to Windows Vista's imminent launch by providing some of the most influential bloggers with free portables, according to reports by Scott Beale and other recipients. Each system is a top-end model in Acer's flagship Ferrari line and varies from the ultraportable Ferrari 1000 (pictured) to the mid-range Ferrari 5000. The custom-configured systems, however, are said to ship with preinstalled copies of Windows Vista Ultimate -- the premium edition of Microsoft's as yet unreleased operating system. The exact criteria used to determine who receives a system has not yet been determined but is likely to include those Microsoft believes would be most likely to convert otherwise hesitant users.
"It could be that they are reaching out to bloggers who are Mac users," says Beale. "Or it might just be that people I know who work for Microsoft or other influential bloggers recommended me."
While Microsoft has taken great steps to promise bloggers that it does not expect positive reports, recipient Long Zheng claims, the tactic has provoked criticism from technology luminaries who accuse the Redmond-based company of generating artificial word-of-mouth press for Vista by encouraging related news articles. "Now THAT is my idea of PayPerPost," writes former Microsoft evangelist Robert Scoble.
Similar attention has recently been given to the company's Zune Masters program, which provides a free music player to those that agree to promote the Zune to friends.