Soft Treatment in Business Press

Bruce Ediger

Here's two real-life examples of the kind of kid-glove treatment that Microsoft gets in the press. I used to subscribe to the Denver Rocky Mountain News (R.I.P.), once one of Denver, Colorado's two major papers.

Windows 97, I mean 98

  1. On Friday, July 25, 1997, on page 3B, the Rocky Mountain News ran an article entitled "Windows upgrade due in first 3 months of '98". That article, which stated that Windows 97 was going to arrive in early 1998, also explicitly stated that the next Windows is already late.
  2. In the Tuesday, September 16th Rocky Mountain News Business section, page 2B, once again in the "BUSINESS Briefing" subsection, the lead-off item was slugged as WINDOWS 98 DELAYED. Although the wording is vague ("... is delaying release ... until the spring"), it sounds like the First Quarter of 1998 date has slipped to Second Quarter.
  3. In the Tuesday, March 3, 1998, Business Section, the "BUSINESS Briefing" subsection on page 2B, there was a small item entitled Windows 98 on Schedule. The article quotes Bill Gates: "We're on track to release Windows 98, and we're full speed ahead.".

I can't understand how something originally scheduled for 1997, then rescheduled for early 1998, and rescheduled yet again for mid 1998 can possibly be termed as "on schedule" or "on track". All I can figure is that Business Editor ran an M$ press release as a news items, despite having run two previous items that directly contradict the press release.

NT 5.0 I mean Windows 2000

The next example doesn't seem quite so clear cut, since some of the citations come from different sources.

  1. Oct 17, 1998

    NT 5.0 renamed "Windows 2000", due out "early 1999".

  2. June 5, 1998
    Windows NT 5.0 has had several target dates in the past-ranging from final shipment in early 1998 to the Beta 2 release in the first half of the year to final shipment by year's end. Hardware vendors, software makers and customers now expect the operating system to ship in mid- to late 1999.
  3. June 29, 1998

    NT 5.0 "already slipped to early 1999"

  4. The Tuesday, January 19, 1999 Rocky Mountain News Business Section, page 8B, contains an articles headlined Microsoft delays Windows 2000.

    Granted Microsoft actually delayed "the last test version" of Windows 2000 to the end of April, but a senior analyst at "Giga Information Group" states "It's likely that we're really talking about a (final) release midyear 2000 rather than anything approaching the end of 1999."

    The byline credits Laura Raun of Bloomberg News for this article.

  5. The Tuesday, May 25, 1999 Rocky Mountain News Business Section, page 7B, contains an articles headlined Windows 2000 release on target.

    This article, also bylined Bloomberg News, contains a statement from Microsoft Corp. that the introduction of Windows 2000 is on schedule. The third and final test version of Windows 2000 was released on April 29, almost at the end of the period for its release given by the January 19 Bloomberg News article.

Here, only the headlines of the newspaper articles really disagree. You actually have to do some research (about 5 minutes worth) to find web-retrievable documentation that absolutely refutes Microsoft's orwellian revision of NT 5.0/Windows 2000 release schedule.

This time, I have to say that the Business Editor didn't slip up. The Bloomberg News wire service slipped up by not checking what it had previously run on the topic, and by not checking rather easy to find citations on the topic.

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