Now, if you’ve been living under the rock or just having the relaxed holiday time, then you missed the story about Microsoft sending the free Vista loaded Laptops to select bloggers which caused a controversy in blogosphere. Essentially Microsoft gifted the laptops in hope that people will blog about Vista.

Frans says that opinion of the blogger have been bought and therefore is worthless. Scoble thinks it is awesome idea and Joel disagrees.

I do not know what all brouhaha is about.
As long as people disclosed it, it does not really matter (more on that below). You are free to write review, or not, and you are free to say good or bad about Windows Vista. Microsoft wants people to try Vista and the easiest way to do so is to give them preinstalled, ready-to-run machine. If you have deep pockets like them, then you can do that of course.

Bloggers are always free to give the laptop away.
I am sure that there are plenty of charities that would highly appreciate such gift.
It is interesting to see the different interpretations of the ethical and unethical behavior though, which is what sparked this post.

“Development shortcuts”
Over the years I’ve seen our product designs copied by competing products including some of our quirky property names ;-) and couple of years ago with the product they even copied the help file, word for word and leave or product name in there too :-)

Recently one of our competitors, component author from Australia (who shall stay nameless), purchased the DotNetBar Source Code while openly blogging about creating competing Ribbon product and while selling other competing products under different name. Now, I cannot see any legitimate reason for that person ordering the source code of our product except to use it to shortcut the writing of his product and/or copy the source code…

Yeah, I know, imitation is sincerest form of flattery
but I was neither very flattered nor amused. It is at least unethical and depending on how far such things go definitely illegal. We invested countless hours researching and developing our components so our customers can take advantage of that, not our competitors, even though they do. Everyone in industry looks what competition does, it is normal and expected, but most don’t go and obtain the source code. I sure would not. We of course, have refunded the order fully and have not sent the source code… I am a firm believer in competition though, it is great for customers and keeps everyone honest.
This really saddens me…
It is sad to see the author trying to build “credibility” for his product through his blog and then turns around and tries “development shortcuts” like this. It is much better strategy to invest the time to learn… Market is big enough for everyone.

My point is, your integrity is determined by your actions when you think nobody is watching… Laptop more or less does not really matter.

Update: The author mentioned in the story now claims he was merely doing the “market research”. I was wondering what kind of “market research” requires you to have source code when free fully functional trial versions are available? Thats got to suffice for any legitimate market research, I would think… And with the all potential copyright and legal implications I am not sure why would you even want to get close to your competitors copyrighted source code… Can you imagine Microsoft being caught with the proprietary Mac OS X source claiming it is only doing “market research”? Yeah, right…

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