This is a long post, but if you have any concerns about Microsoft
"marketing" practices then it is well worth considering.
Novell claims Microsoft's out to get it
+PROVO, Utah -- Novell, a maker of operating-system software, is suing
+Microsoft over an advertising campaign it said makes false and misleading
+statements about Novell's NetWare products.
+Novell said Microsoft sent marketing materials shaped like cereal boxes to
+Novell customers calling into question whether Novell will continue to
+support its NetWare software.
+The boxes, "Microsoft Server Crunch," contained software for moving to a
+Microsoft operating system from a Novell system, said Joe LaSala, Novell's
+Novell is not amused: "These questions and statements are completely false
+and misleading," said Stewart Nelson, Novell COO. "Microsoft has tried to
+create a fictitious end of life for NetWare to create fear and uncertainty
+within Novell's customer base and to discourage future customers from doing
+business with Novell."
+Instead, a press release put out by Novell reads: "There is no expiration
+date for NetWare. NetWare has been and continues to be Novell's flagship
+software offering. In fact, development of NetWare 6.1 and future releases
+of NetWare has been underway for more than a year. Far from becoming
+obsolete, NetWare is a state-of-the-art networking platform, and it has
+Novell's full support both for currently shipping versions and versions yet
+to be announced."
+Novell wants "corrective advertising", the pulling of the current
+advertising and damages, currently unannounced.
Microsoft's employees have a very long history of posting lies
and FUD ( Fear Uncertainty Doubt ) under aliases and it has
put Microsoft in trouble with the US DOJ before.
The Barkto Incident, also against Novell and OS/2
+The Barkto Incident did not escape the attention of the
+Department of Justice who was winding up their five-year investigation
+of MS when it occured. They flew a special team to Redmond to take
+depositions on the matter just weeks before Microsoft agreed to the
+Consent Decree designed to stop their predatory and anti-competitive
Such negative advertising is very destructive. Even when the
content can be easily disproved, the people making the
purchasing choices do not always have the knowledge or time
to follow the arguments in public forums to there conclusions.
Is the rest of the open source and free licence community, like myself
also sick and tired of refuting the lies propagated by Microsoft
about open source software and GPL licencing?
( Another recent Anti-Apache example
and one other De-FUDed by myself a couple of months before
Maybe it's time to take more "affirmative" action.
Should the commercial companies who provide open source distributions
and support services join Novell in a Class Action Suite against
Microsoft for *years* of similar FUD tactics?
But would that end the lies being spread in usenet and other
Maybe we should start complaining to the various local Commerce
Commissions or equivalent agencies concerning the "negative
advertising" in this and other public forums.
IANAL ( I am not a lawyer ) but in New Zealand we have the
Fair Trading Act 1986 , which is based on very simliar legistation
from Australia. I believe that there is other simliar legistation
covering the advertising of goods and services in a lot of other
countries as well.
A quick introduction, in respects to advertising is available online
from the NZ Commerce Commission ...
A Guide for Advertisers and Traders 1997
Note this covers media advertising and direct sales pitches, but
more importantly it also covers actions in public forums.
Public forums such as the local and comp.* usenet newsgroups
and the comments posted to technical websites are where the
public go to seek opinions which affect their choice of
purchase, therefore they can constitute "a place of trade".
A copy of the NZ act itself is avalable from
"Fair Trading Act 1986"
It include the following section
"Section I: Misleading and Deceptive Conduct, False Representations, and
Misleading and Deceptive Conduct
9 Misleading and deceptive conduct generally"
+ MISLEADING AND DECEPTIVE CONDUCT, FALSE REPRESENTATIONS, AND UNFAIR
+ Misleading and Deceptive Conduct
+ 9. Misleading and deceptive conduct generally---No person shall, in
+ trade, engage in conduct that is misleading or deceptive or is likely to
+ mislead or deceive.
+ Cf. Trade Practices Act 1974 (Aust.), s. 52
This includes making of false or deciptive declarations, but it also
includes "engage in conduct that is misleading or deceptive"
Most generally accepted professional codes of ethics covering business
practices such as ethical guidelines of the New Zealand Computer Society
+"In relation to the public, the member...
+shall declare any personal financial interest in making any statement,
+criticism or argument concerning information processing."
Microsoft (NZ) has signed up to that agreement.
Which requires of its members
+'Partners In Excellence" are organisations (small, medium or large,
+commercial or non-commercial) that are involved in the supply or use of
+information systems and/or technology in some way, and visibly support
+NZCS in its ongoing challenge to achieve improvement in the professional
+standards, ethics and skill levels of those involved in these industries.'
Therefore, any Microsoft employee or agent who makes a critical comment
over any other vendors product, without disclosing their financial
relationship to Microsoft is in breech of the above code of ethics and
also the Fair Trading Act 1986.
One more very important part of the act covers the definition and
"Conduct by servants or agent"
"Section V: Enforcement and Remedies
45 Conduct by servants or agents
This means that under the act not only for the actions of direct
employees but also those who have been
+ (b) By any other person at the direction or with the consent or
+ agreement (whether express or implied) of a director, servant,
+ or agent of the body corporate, given within the scope of the
+ actual or apparent authority of the director, servant or
+ shall be deemed, for the purposes of this Act, to have been engaged in
+ also by the body corporate.
IMO Microsoft is also legally liable for the claims made by those who
have been directly "provoked" into doing so or provide with the content
by a Microsoft employee.
The posts made by a lot of the WinTrolls in this and other newsgroups
often share very simliar content. Is this because it comes from a common
Note under the same section it is not the individuals who are liable
but the "body corporate", only Microsoft itself would face the legal
The powers available to your local Commerce Commision or Office of Fair
Trading etc should be very similar to that of the NZ Commerce Commision.
+Section 47 of the Fair Trading Act gives the Commission the power to obtain
+and execute search warrants. Commission officers can, with such a warrant,
+search premises and seize and remove goods, documents, computer records and
It is well within the ability of the NZ Commerce Commission to request
the employment/contract details from Microsoft of all its employees
to match ISP accounts, email addresses, usenet aliases and any remaining
copies of emails. More than enough IMO to track down quite a few
"astroturfers". ( I have evidence of at least one who has posted in
the local nz.comp usenet group)
It is very apparent that Microsoft have breached the "Consent Decree"
many times over.
In New Zealand anyone can make a direct complaint to the NZ Commerce
Commission, but it is at the Commissions own discretion whether to
investgate the complaint. A large number of complaints and a bit
of publicity would likely improve the chances.
Alternately a company, group or individual can take a more direct route...
+Anyone can apply to the High Court for an injunction to stop the Act being
+breached. The court can grant injunctions to stop activities that traders
+are currently engaged in, or are likely to engage in. Where prompt
+intervention is necessary to minimise damage caused by unlawful conduct, the
+court may order an interim injunction pending a full hearing of the case.
Getting acceptance of open source solutions in my last place of work
was an uphill battle. Not because of the sutabilty of the product
but because of the negative FUD generated by Microsoft, on occasion
directly from some of their local sales staff.
I am seriously considering laying a complaint or getting together
with a group to take direct action if Microsoft continues with
similar marketing tactics.
Maybe it is finally time for the open source and free licence communities
and businesses to consider doing the same in every country with ...
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