CyberTech Rambler

January 3, 2006

Real story, Reporter in search of a story, or PR? (Updated)

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 2:23 pm

Lets have a look at this news item on Email Battles about Microsoft Employees ranting about IE6 in a negative way. The reason why I want to look at it is because I am not sure whether am I seeing a real factual account of what really happens inside Microsoft, Microsoft PR Campaign to counter the spread of Firefox 1.5, or just simply, a reporter reporting an uninteresting story because of the annual “End of Year News Drought” as everyone is on holiday.

Let’s look at the chornology of events first (All dates approximate):

  1. ** December 16, 2004: Launch of Mozilla Firefox1.0
  2. January 29 2005: Rory Blyth of Microsoft, in response to a comment on his blog, complains that IE6 is “horribly behind time”.
  3. February 15 2005: Bill Gates announce IE7
  4. ** December 08, 2005: Launch of Mozilla Firefox 1.5
  5. December 19, 2005: Dare Obsasanja tell Microsoft to shake up or concede web browser development to other companies.
  6. December 19, 2005: Jorg Brown revealation about a conversation he has with a Microsoft superior on Slashdot
  7. Decmebr 29, 2005: The article discussed was published.

Italic items are comments quoted by the article and attributed to people close to Microsoft.

Is it a genuine story? No. Nothing worth reporting here.

A reporter filling the “end of year news drought”? Not very likely. Look at the timing of events. Events (5) and (6) is planted to path the way for the news item. At this festive season, reporters want a break too. I doubt he really spend the time to dig out Blyth’s comment in the beginning of the year.

Moreover, I am sure everyone can see that all responses from Microsoft side seems to be triggered with Mozilla Firefox launches (Items marked with **). The lack of about one-and-a-half months between (1) and (2) can be easily explained by Microsoft preparing its response to Firefox. If you need supporting evidence, there is a one month difference between the launch of Firefox 1.0 (1) and Rory Blyth’s complain (2) but Bill Gates announcement is merely two weeks away from Blyth’s complain. My money is that when Rory Blyth comments is a precursor for Bill Gate’s announcement and when Blyth makes his comments, he knows that IE7 project is a go or being finalized. Bill Gate’s announcment is delayed in search of a big conference to announce it. If you need one more reason on why this is a PR campaign at work, just remember, as employee, it is a rule of thumb not to speakout about ones work, especially one that devalues your employers product; Unless, of course, you have prior clearance from PR.

Another thing to remember is, when did you see reporter pick up something that happens almost a year ago (1)? That comment by Rory Blyth is stale by all accounts.

[Update 4 Jan 2005]
Second story on the same vein appeared. My verdict: stronger evidence that this is a PR campaign. Who in the right mind will talk about non-existing issues surrounding IE7 beta (rivalries, complains etc) instead of the IE7 product itself (reviews)?

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