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Microsoft: Brainwashing at Best Buy?

Scandal! Microsoft is sending out marketing materials to retailers that -- gasp! -- make Windows look better than its competitors. Will this bully's reign of terror ever end?

Seriously, this week, the trade press and the conblogeration (it's sort of a combination of conglomeration and blog -- we like it better than blogosphere) went nuts over materials Microsoft sent to Best Buy employees. These propaganda pieces touted Windows 7's advantages over Linux and the Mac.

As you already know if you clicked the links above, Ars Technica, a site we like, got a hold of Microsoft's Best Buy documents and took them apart bit by bit. Well, sort of. Ars went for the Microsoft-is-attacking-Apple-and-Linux line of reporting and tried to show where Microsoft was just making things up. This line even found its way into both stories in one way or another:

"While there are correct assertions in the slides, the majority of the statements are inaccurate, or are only accurate in the specific way they are worded."

From what we can tell, nothing Microsoft says in any of the slides is actually inaccurate. (And, from what we can tell, Ars didn't manage to pinpoint any absolute, black-or-white inaccuracies.) Are Microsoft's claims open to interpretation? Debatable? Sure. But that's marketing; something that's "only accurate in the specific way" it's worded is still accurate.

Every company sends this sort of thing out to retail and channel partners. Microsoft's version is probably pretty mild, actually. This is just one of those cases in which the trade press and the conblogeration have gone out of their way to try to make Microsoft look like a bully. Well, we're not (best) buying it.

Besides, your editor has shopped at Best Buy, and it's one of the few stores where staff members consistently have a pretty solid knowledge of their stock. So, we're quite sure that folks at Best Buy will be able to determine how much of Microsoft's marketing materials they want or need to use. We've wasted enough words on this already, so we'll just leave it at that.

Are you offended by Microsoft's marketing efforts with Best Buy? If so, why? Sound off at lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on September 10, 2009 at 11:55 AM