Open Letter to Microsoft Marketing – What’s the deal with holding back promotional hardware?

4.6 million visitors. 9 + million page views.

Remember those numbers. You’ll see them again.

So once again, because I am not funded by a  large parent corporations so I am able to talk frankly about a bunch of stuff that other VERY prominent technology bloggers won’t.

Most of my blogger/writer contacts agree with what I am about to say but they can’t publicly do so.

  • Some won’t because they are afraid that they will lose their Microsoft source access.
  • Others won’t because their parent companies simply won’t let them rub Microsoft the wrong way.

I will because in the words of a prominent poet (Tupac Shakur), “I have a big mouth“.

Microsoft’s policy of keeping the press away from hardware.

For a company that is trying to get people to adopt and use their products, Microsoft sure seem to have a ridiculous policy when it comes to sharing hardware with the press.

I noticed it at the first BUILD conference when thousands of paying developers got Samsung Tablets and the hundreds of international press and journalists from around the world got – Nada. Zip. Zilch.

This was a year ago and I thought it was just me (which was fine, who the hell am I right?) but it wasn’t.

There were hundreds of journalists around and there were ONLY about 4 or 5 “loaner” Samsung tablets for some “privileged” and “special” bloggers ( they know who they are, no need to publicly out them ).

The same 4 or 5 bloggers get the special treatment from Microsoft and everybody else has to kind of fight for scraps.

Guess what that does to everybody else in that room? They don’t feel like writing nice things.

Now a few months ago, I was with a bunch of VERY big names discussing this topic and they (to the person) were pissed off about how hard it is to get hardware from this company to review.

I’m talking about BIG names that would shock you.

Now let’s be very clear – it’s Microsoft’s prerogative who they choose to give their hardware to but this policy seems a little outdated.

On every level, it seems counter-productive to withhold review copies of software or hardware to people who just want to write about it.

  • First of all, the struggle makes bloggers and writers cranky and probably less willing to be objective. Just human nature, not pointing fingers.
  • Second, since Microsoft is playing catch up in this space, it’s a little strange that Microsoft would want to play this game.
  • Third, the financial cost of providing a few hundred copies of Windows 8 or Microsoft Surfaces or Nokia Lumias is nothing to a company the size of Microsoft. Not even a rounding error.
  • Fourth, when you give people things, THEY TEND TO LIKE YOU. They then tend to give you the benefit of the doubt in their articles and stories.

I noticed it again at the last BUILD conference when other bloggers and writers came up to me and asked me where I got my Microsoft Surface.

They were trying to figure out who my contact was and whether I was willing to share a name. When I told them I bought mine and you could see the hope just fade from their faces.

PEOPLE THIS IS EMBARRASSING.

I think it is absolutely crazy that there aren’t 500 Microsoft Surfaces ready to be loaned out to any semi-credible journalist or blogger who wants to write about it.

I find it crazy that there aren’t 1000 Nokia Lumia 920’s out there ready to be loaned out to any journalist who cares to ask.

It’s insane that most bloggers and writers I know had to actually go out and download Windows 8 themselves to get the screenshots.

The last straw for me was when I tried to get a Surface, Lumia and HTC 8x to give away for a promotion on this site.

My thought was, run the promo, pick the winners and then Microsoft could send them the hardware.

You know what I got?

the silence of a wind blown leaf

Yup.

Now this is one of the smaller sites in my blog network but here are the numbers for 2012.

  • 4.6 million visitors.
  • 9+ million page views.
  • 250,000 combined subscribers (Twitter, Feedburner, Aweber, Facebook, Google+).

Those are the numbers this (not so) tiny website has done in 2012 and the site will probably double or triple those numbers next year.

Now those aren’t Engadget, PC World or Verge numbers but still not anything to sneeze at.

My larger point is, even if my site reached only a fraction of those people, why isn’t the Microsoft marketing team more aggressive about getting stuff to anyone who wants to promote this product?

A friend of mine who’s a  technology analyst at a large firm said he thought it was because they didn’t want to be seen as trying to influence the press.

My response – Bull.

  1. They do give items out but just to a few “chosen” people. – That’s worse.
  2. It’s not a conflict if everyone is freely able to receive the same benefit.

Anyway, it’s more amusing to me than anything else.

I get all the hardware I need so I damn well won’t play that game and beg some PR firm.

I just wanted to put this out there for those who want to say the same but know they can’t. You know who you are.

I (kind of) feel your pain.

🙂

What do y’all think?

Please Leave Your Comments Below...

  • Trin James

    That’s whacky man.

    They should at least send you some free shit.

    • http://www.windows8update.com/ Onuora Amobi

      I agree!

      It’s not like I’m promoting Windows 8 or anything right?

  • Dean Roman

    I’m not surprised. That’s basically Microsoft’s MO. Small picture always…

    • http://www.windows8update.com/ Onuora Amobi

      I hear that a lot as well…

  • Anon

    They never send anyone anything. Their PR team at Edelman love to tell you that they will get back to you and then …. silence…

    • http://www.windows8update.com/ Onuora Amobi

      *no comment*

      LOL

  • Dustin Smith

    wow….thanks for the write up, didn’t know this was going on

    • http://www.windows8update.com/ Onuora Amobi

      Yup.

      It is what it is…

  • http://www.facebook.com/John.Patriot.Holmes John Holmes

    I’m with you 100% on this. I have been hungry for information on Win 8 since the rumors, installed release preview on my test machine as soon as I could get a copy. I have tried to defend Win 8 at every turn, saying “it’s new, get used to it”.

    Microsoft seems hell bent on shooting themselves in the foot. The same problems creep up with every platform change, it is no wonder that so many enterprise clients are still running Windows XP

    • http://www.windows8update.com/ Onuora Amobi

      I hear that a lot.

      Thanks for the comment…

    • http://www.facebook.com/Mekusa Macpaul Emeka Ekwueme

      So what’s your point? Have you been defending Windows 8 because you believe in it, or because you expect to get a compensation?

  • Ray

    I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again: Microsoft is their own worst enemy!! They had a golden opportunity with windows 8 and have literally blown it at every turn.

  • Misterbear Fapp

    This always comes as a shock to so many people, but even though your mother says otherwise, YOU’RE NOT SPECIAL.

    All I’m hearing in this entire piece is, I’m very important so you should give me stuff or I won’t like you or say nice things about you. Really?

    • http://www.windows8update.com/ Onuora Amobi

      See the reponse to Omoronovo above.

  • Omoronovo

    If you need “free handout” from Microsoft to be unbiased in your review of Microsoft hardware and software, then you are not following journalistic integrity very well.

    You have a huge amount of page views, and you’re trying to say you need freebies form microsoft in order to give accurate reviews of their products and services? Get real.

    • http://www.windows8update.com/ Onuora Amobi

      I don’t “need” free handouts from anyone. I have an iphone, an iPad and run Windows 7.

      It would be nice to get “free handouts” to distribute to you guys.

      I guess you don’t want the stuff huh?

      • Omoronovo

        This article is just you getting pissy that Microsoft hasn’t distributed samples to you – you said nothing about what you would do with them (and in actual fact, it makes zero difference).

        Stop presuming you have a right to have free gear from Microsoft – you make money from this site – Microsoft owes you absolutely nothing.

        • http://www.windows8update.com/ Onuora Amobi

          Learn to read.

          I said

          “The last straw for me was when I tried to get a Surface, Lumia and HTC 8x to give away for a promotion on this site.

          My thought was, run the promo, pick the winners and then Microsoft could send them the hardware.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/terry.crowdey Terry Crowdey

    WOW. Know your going to crucify me here but here goes. I am 54 work in technology retail and am a early adopter of new (from beta) operating systems. I have followed this blog for over a year. I must admit I always look to the positive in everything, I think negative is self defeating. You do not get early looks at Apple, you do not get free or loan units from Apple. What you do get is massive positivity at releases and at the stores and on all the blogs and news articles, when quite frankly their stuff sucks. Their devices have always been hopeless at WiFi and their software while simple is rigid and boring. I know I long term test. I own a Surface it is physically built much stronger and better than iPad and is so much more flexible in software and multitasking. Here we go. However in your blogs I hear 50% of the time how Apple does it and is better, and 50% on how rubbish Microsoft is and what you can find WRONG with their product. Now everything has a right and a wrong, I come to this blog to see what is RIGHT about Windows 8 if I wanted to hear what’s WRONG I would head over to a Apple blog. Its not that Apple does anything better they just have much more dedicated supporters. Sorry your approach is wrong, what you are pursuing as even reporting is really just playing in two fields, sorry again no malice its just what I see and I imagine many others see. Including Microsoft. Also the reason I did not buy your book, as I have seen your blog slowly progress into negativity. Personally I thank Microsoft for giving me a operating system that stimulates my brain.

    • http://www.windows8update.com/ Onuora Amobi

      No crucifixion.

      I absolutely respect your opinion. If I didn’t I could delete your comment.

      I’m sorry you feel that way but that’s the beauty of the web – diversity.

      🙂

      • http://twitter.com/panosd panosd

        why didn’t you respond to his point that Apple never give out free samples of anything?

  • http://www.facebook.com/terry.crowdey Terry Crowdey

    Onuora. You are not respecting opinion and this shocks me as you have deleted my last post and obviously others, as it says 17 comments and there is not 17 here

    • http://www.windows8update.com/ Onuora Amobi

      ???

  • http://www.facebook.com/Mekusa Macpaul Emeka Ekwueme

    What? Give out hardwares to journalists so that they go out and write all sorts of uninformed reviews about them, and continue in their tradition of praising anything from Apple? I’m with Microsoft on this one. The quality of reviews that I read from most of the so-called tech blog sites these days is very appalling.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Mekusa Macpaul Emeka Ekwueme

    While I don’t think MS should be giving out devices to every journalist that asks for it, I believe sites like yours that are dedicated solely to windows 8 (I’m guessing from the name) should get some support from them. It is sites like this that should be giving the unbiased reviews on win 8 products. That is if you maintain your integrity and not go out linking hand outs with positive reviews. So I think somehow this article could have been subtler.

  • voleheart

    look at me! i am super tiny compared to you. wish i had the size a site you did

  • http://www.facebook.com/darrenkgeorge Darren Kavin George

    maybe U bloggers are spoiled. Maybe you are just throwing a temper tantrum?

  • http://www.facebook.com/edward.allen.54 Edward Allen

    I really think that Morosoft’s reluctance to put out more information about their hardware requirements for Windows 8 (All versions) stems largely from the issue of propretary hardware and patent issues. It seems that Microsoft has had it’s legal bullets to dodge in the past and probably afraid of more accusations (whether those accusations have merit or not is immaterial to Microsoft). But let me comment that if a large corporation is trying to develop their own proprietary systems, harware and software devices, I can understand why they might be reluctant to put all the information about their systems to Joe Q public. if they did they would probably be afraid that their competitors would grab their code and re-engineer it use with their own systems. I am probably way off the mark on this, but this is just my opinion.

    • http://www.windows8update.com/ Onuora Amobi

      To the public maybe but it’s common practice to have journalists sign NDA’s and other legal protection documents..

  • http://twitter.com/panosd panosd

    Did I misunderstand or did you say that you ran the promo, picked out winners and THEN contacted Microsoft to tell them that you wanted them to send some free hardware out to people? Isn’t that a bit presumptuous? What would Apple say to the same request?

    • http://www.windows8update.com/ Onuora Amobi

      No I wanted to run the promo so I asked.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bill.kimsey Bill Kimsey

    I find that strange, because when I was a VAR Microsoft always sent us their new stuff. I still have all the copies of Office they sent.