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Oh yes it is, oh no it's not – ZDNet UK goes panto

Is truth the first casualty of hit-related incentivisation?

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Angels watch over some people. But they do something else entirely over less fortunate individuals, it would appear. Just hours after we were compelled to draw attention to ZDNet UK's bizarre fingering of MIPS as the mystery hardware platform for EPOC's second front yesterday, up popped an almost equally bizarre ZDNet story headed "MS working on Office for Linux." But we thought we'd let editor Richard Barry off this time, seeing he'd apparently been stitched up by Psion founder David Potter's refusing to tell him Motorola announced an EPOC port to M-Core 16 months ago. Today, however, there in all its glory on ZDNet UK was a story headed "MS Office on Linux? Not likely." As ZD is now evidently autocorrecting, we might as well join in. The original story humorously balanced its entire shaky edifice on a quote from LinuxCare's Arthur Tyde, who claimed he'd heard rumours from a number of different sources that Microsoft had 34 developers working on a version of Office for Linux. But he said he didn't know if it was true. Ahem. Today, says ZDNet UK ace Linux pundit Will Knight, "Even as rumours circulate at the CeBIT trade show..." (presumably circulated solely by Oor Wullie) Microsoft has issued a categorical denial. It's not immediately clear why ZDNet UK feels impelled to follow up the original flimsy tale with an equally flimsy reversal, but there's a clue at the bottom: "Smart Reseller's Mary Jo Foley contributed to this report." We can picture the situation. MS doing Linux Office story goes up in the UK, gets Slashdotted (we presume this was in accordance with the 'hits at all costs' programme ZDNet UK currently seems to be running), and comes to the attention of the redoubtable Mary Jo. Who shakes her head dubiously, and phones Redmond. Who then, having obtained the denial, phones the luckless Richard Barry and... Angels, as we said earlier, don't always just watch. ®

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