More Microsoft Malfeasance

Here’s an update to my previous post, “What Microsoft Wants: Addicts, Serfs and Sycophants” showing two more examples of what Microsoft expects of its “partners”:

some [Microsoft] partners say the task of ensuring that their clients are in compliance with Microsoft’s Byzantine software licensing structure is steadily growing more difficult. Making matters worse, several sources told CMP Channel that Microsoft sometimes expects partners to act as foot soldiers in its ongoing campaign against so-called ‘unintentional’ software piracy by reporting organizations that aren’t in compliance, which is threatening their role as trusted advisors to their clients. […] While Microsoft doesn’t explicitly require partners to act as enforcers of its licensing terms, solution providers say there have been cases in which they’ve been pressured by Microsoft to blow the whistle on software license violators. “My concern is always being placed into the position of ‘licensing police’,” said one Gold level partner. “While we will never sell or recommend nor implement any level of piracy, as the customer’s trusted advisor, we cannot be placed into the position of enforcing a vendor’s licensing.” […] Braden notes that Microsoft in the past has given its large account reseller (LAR) and enterprise partners soft quotas for the number of licensing compliance violations they’re required to report each year. “It’s fair to say that as a Microsoft partner, you’re expected to look out for their interests, and part of that would be to watch for licensing compliance issues,” said Braden. Recently, Microsoft has been encouraging some of its leading resellers into getting trained on the finer points of monitoring licensing compliance, he said. The hard line Microsoft takes on software piracy can often have a trickle-down effect in the channel, forcing partners to devote valuable time to software licensing issues, Braden adds. “I can understand the reasons why Microsoft wants to do activation and key management, but it makes things tough, especially for small and medium partners,” he said. [Source]

IDG in Sweden is reporting the contents of a leaked Microsoft memo sent to Microsoft partners there, telling them to join the Swedish Institute of Standards and vote yes on OOXML. As you know, 20+ newly registered Microsoft partner companies did so, thus switching the expected No vote to Yes at the last minute. It says Microsoft’s representative Klas Hammar acknowledges the memo was sent, but says it should not have been. It costs money to join SIS, registration of around $150 and an additional $1,150 or so to get to vote, so Microsoft is reported to have told partners in the memo that companies that paid the fee and voted appropriately would receive “marketing support” (”marknadsbidrag”) and “additional support in the form of Microsoft resources” (”extra stöd i form av Microsoftresurser”) […] The partners didn’t need to worry if they didn’t know anything about the specification, the memo reassured them; it provided reasons why they should vote yes. In any case, the memo reportedly told them they wouldn’t need to argue technical details, but would perhaps have to offer a few arguments why they voted yes, and these reasons would be provided by Microsoft. They’d have to go to two meetings. Here is the part about the memo, Groklaw member Ghost’s translation into English:

In an informational email that, according to Microsoft, went “to a few” partner companies, they write among other things that their partners are “expected” to join the standards insitute and “participate on the meeting the 27/8, to vote yes to Open XML”. The partner companies are also asked to participate in some additional meeting after the ballot, this to “show their good judgment”. For the partners that do not feel they are adequately knowledgeable about the subject, Microsoft offers ready-made arguments as to why Office Open XML should be accepted by SIS. ”[The partner companies] do not need to discuss the technical contents in the specification but should be prepared to offer a few arguments as to why they vote yes – these will be provided by Microsoft”, the company writes. The fee for joining SIS is 15 000 SEK [appx $1200] and the partnership companies will have to cover this themselves, but the software giant offers “marketing support” and “additional support in the form of Microsoft resources” to the partners that join and participate in the ballot. [Source]

Update: here’s an account from a MS-partner in Denmark…

Even though Microsoft denies having put pressure on partners to get them involved in the OOXML debate, some partners have experienced pressure from the software giant anyway […] A source, who wishes to remain anonymous, informs Version2, that he experienced Microsoft strongly trying to control the process. He denies that bribe was involved, but his Microsoft contact early on brought a certain form on the table, that the partner was to send to Dansk Standard. According to the source, the Microsoft contact repeatedly encouraged sending in the form […] “If I had not sent in a positive comment, it would have had consequences for our relations with Microsoft”, he says. Our source points to e.g. leads, support and seminars as areas that might be jeopardized if “he did not behave”. [Source]

Bonus Link: Microsoft’s Dirty Tricks circa 1999.


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