MS spinmeisters invent huge demand for WinXP ‘story’
'Balanced to positive quotes only please...'
"One month to go and customers can't wait for Windows XP! Thanks Microsoft for letting us - the public - have a try before we buy!" So shrieks the latest excitable press release from the Microsoft UK spinmeisters at Augusto Ne. "Thousands of people," it says here, "both technical as well as those who wanted to get a look at the latest home PC operating system from Microsoft, who have signed up to the Windows XP preview programme have been posting their comments up on the MSN user group site over the past couple of weeks - and the good news is, they like it."
This, you'll probably agree with the cynics at The Reg, sounds like a very strange user group. Thousands of them? All fired-up and raring to go? Positive comments? Absolutely no embittered abuse about Bill and his merry men? This has got to be the Stepford New Group, and we've got to take a look.
After some rummaging, we found something that looks like it might be the right place. It's the Windows XP trial (no silly, not that trial) community on MSN UK. At first sight, however, it seems just like the usual bilious stuff. For example, there's "Windows XP's incompatible with everything I own," or "what a disappointment," or "XP not worth all the effort." We'll grant you there seem to be a few people saying nice things about XP, but they seem to be at least balanced by the grumpy ones, and in the main it's the usual discussion about driver issues, installation problems and so on.
So, where are these "thousands of people" posting their ecstatic comments on the board? A little down the list, we find a clue. It's a message from a Hotmail subscriber who, by a miraculous coincidence, seems to have the very same name as one of the top MS spinmeisters at Augusto Ne. And indeed, as an over the hill 60s rock star, so there must be at least three of them.
J (we'll call him that, to save his blushes) writes:
"I'm looking for people who are OK to stand up and be counted about liking Windows XP. If you've got positive things to say - or even balanced! - and wouldn't mind being quoted, please drop me an email about your experience of Windows XP so far, when you'll be upgrading and whether you'll be using it at home or in business.
"If you can put it in quote form, in about 3/4 sentences maximum, and keep it clean, I'd be grateful. If you're happy to speak to members of the press as well, please let me know with your real name and you never know, your name could be appearing in The Sun or the FT!
"Balanced to positive quotes only please - we know there are enough cynics out there for the negative stuff! I can't promise anything else outside of your name in print.
There were eight messages in response. Two of them seem to have been deleted by their authors already, but a couple of the others did indeed make it to the excited Augusto Ne press release. Thousands? Tsk... ®