Just when Microsoft was winning points with me for sending out free Vista-loaded laptops to bloggers, they go and screw it up. According to Marshall Kirpatrick, the Vista laptops are coming with strings attached, after all: if you give a positive review of the operating system, they’ll let you keep it, but if they see you talking trash about it, you’ll either have to give it away on your site or send it back.
I don’t know if Edelman is behind this, or if this is someone inside Microsoft, but it’s extremely bad form either way. The way to build trust and respect from bloggers is to give them free stuff and then allow them to express their opinions, and then go back and FIX the things they’re complaining about. Giving them a free laptop is a great way to build trust and intrigue for Vista, but taking those laptops back when people give them a bad review can do awful, horrible damage to your already shady reputation.
Imagine this: what if you’d done the same thing for the Zune? Given them out to music bloggers in the hopes of getting good reviews, and then yanking them back when everyone (unsurprisingly) crapped all over them? You’d have killed the Zune dead before it even got a chance to kill itself on the market, which it (unsurprisingly) did anyway.