Microsoft in the media: Unfair and unbalanced

Is Microsoft unfairly criticized while Apple, Facebook, and Google get away unscathed? Judge the evidence

I've noticed an unfair, ongoing trend: If Microsoft does something a little off, it gets bashed into the ground for it. But if Google, Facebook, or Apple (all three of which can be categorized, like Microsoft, as The Man in their own rights) missteps, it generally gets mild reprimands and even support from the media and those drinking the Kool-Aid.

The parade of unfair criticism
Case in point is the famous iPhone 4 antenna issue (affectionately termed "antennagate"), where holding the iPhone 4 in a certain way would interfere with the cellular signal. Then-CEO Steve Jobs said, "Hold it differently," and everyone said, "Oh, it's not a design flaw, we are simply not holding it properly."

[ There's plenty of criticism to go around: Galen Gruman shows how Apple's growing power could have a dark side. And Eric Knorr asks why Google stopped doing no evil. | Stay abreast of key Microsoft technologies in InfoWorld's Technology: Microsoft newsletter. ]

We also see a ton of false reporting regarding certain products. One example is when Chrome was crowned the most-used Web browser, according to numbers from the online metrics firm StatCounter. The report tried to show that the browser users preferred on the weekend was the one they love the most: Chrome. This story went viral, but did the true facts reach the same audience? Of course not, even though Microsoft columnist Paul Thurrott gave a full explanation of the situation and helped expose it as false. Unfortunately, the lie was already in people's heads and most likely still is.

Take the brouhaha over the "Smoked by Windows Phone" controversy as another example where a very tiny thing is blown up to huge proportions simply because it is connected to Microsoft. In that case, Microsoft has been challenging folks to beat the Windows Phone OS in a variety of tests. It's been described as more of a "carnival attraction" and deemed unfair, but people lined up to give it a shot and came away impressed with the Windows Phone speed. Ultimately, it served its purpose.

Still, what people remember is the controversy: One guy at one store won the challenge using his Galaxy Nexus by displaying the weather of two different cities faster than the Windows Phone did. The store claimed he had to show two different cities in two different states, and he and the blogosphere cried foul. The guy was eventually offered a new laptop and smartphone as an apology.

This is a simple case of store employees not knowing what to do and making a bad call -- and the press feasting on Microsoft. That story got a ton of (negative) attention for Microsoft.

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